The Nature Conservancy Awarded Invasive Species Management Contract Through 2023
41% increase in funding will step up efforts to combat one of the region’s top environmental threats.
The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) will continue its efforts to protect the region from invasive species—one of the greatest environmental threats facing the Adirondacks—under a new, multi-year contract with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) funded through the Environmental Protection Fund.
The 4 ½-year contract provides critical resources to curtail the spread of invasive plants, animals and insects, as climate change introduces ever more threats to the area. APIPP will hire more workers, deploy camera-equipped drones, and conduct on-the-ground assessments of thousands of acres of lakes and forests to identify areas at particular risk of contamination.
“The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program continues to be a critical partner working collaboratively with DEC,” says Basil Seggos, commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “DEC is dedicated to protecting native ecosystems and preserving environmental resiliency by combating invasive species, and we congratulate our partners at APIPP and their commitment to protecting the Adirondack Park.”
“We want to thank DEC for recognizing APIPP’s success and innovative, science-based approach in addressing one of the top environmental threats to the Adirondacks,” says Peg Olsen, Director of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. “We are thrilled our team will continue to lead our partners in this effort to ensure the Adirondacks remain one of the most extraordinary places on Earth.”
Invasive species are non-native plants, animals, and insects that cause harm to the environment and human health and put economically important industries such as farming, forestry, and tourism at risk. Invasive species are most commonly introduced and spread by people and unfortunately broad awareness of invasive species, their impacts, and what anyone can do to help prevent the spread lags behind other top environmental challenges. In 2017, a strand of hydrilla, commonly referred to as one of the worst aquatic invasive plants in the world, was intercepted by boat launch stewards on a vessel hailing from the Potomac River attempting to launch into Upper Saranac Lake.
According to a 2014 report commissioned by APIPP entitled “The Actual and Potential Economic Impact of Invasive Species on the Adirondack Park: A Preliminary Assessment,” the potential direct economic impact of just eight invasive species, if allowed to spread throughout the Adirondacks, could be between $51 million and $56 million annually. Nationally, economic impacts are estimated to be $100 to $150 billion annually.
The contract allows APIPP to invest in technology and innovation that lead to better solutions for both people and nature in a changing climate. With support from its extensive network of partners, APIPP’s vision through 2023 includes:
- Control invasive species introduced to sensitive native habitats and reduce the potential detrimental impact these will have on the Adirondack region’s resilient and connected lands and waterbodies.
- Hire two new full-time staff - an Invasive Species Education and Communications Coordinator and an Invasive Species Information Management Coordinator.
- Collect data to identify waterbodies at risk of invasive species contamination. Develop programs to screen fill and other construction material for terrestrial invasive species.
- Invest in technology, such as drones equipped with multispectral cameras, that can detect invasive species and map areas likely to be vulnerable. Expand the use of early detection and rapid response teams critical to managing high priority water and land infestations throughout the region.
- Expand the program’s invasive species data collection - one of the most robust aquatic and terrestrial invasive species distribution, abundance, and management datasets in North America - and analysis capabilities utilizing both terrestrial and aquatic remote sensing platforms.
- Facilitate the recovery of native ecosystems by seeding or planting locally sourced, native plant species.
- Publish results of several projects, including the Adirondack lakes and ponds at risk of invasive species contamination, and analyze the threats invasive species pose to forests’ ability to retain carbon and mitigate climate change.
“DEC’s selection of APIPP for this contract is a testament to the many dedicated partners and volunteers that champion the effort to protect the Adirondacks,” says APIPP’s former director Brendan Quirion. “We owe our success over the last 20 years to them. And while we’re extremely proud of our accomplishments so far, there is much more work to be done. Our goal is to ensure the highest levels of protection and this can only be accomplished when everyone who loves the Adirondacks gets involved.”
Since its inception in 1998 as New York State’s first Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM), APIPP’s successes have paved the way for seven other PRISMs now in existence throughout the state. APIPP has piloted numerous approaches to invasive species prevention and management such as Invasive Species Awareness Week and regional invasive species early detection and response teams which are now statewide initiatives. The program has also been the recipient of numerous local, state and national awards, including the National Invasive Species Council’s “Outstanding Achievement in Invasive Species Leadership” award.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.