This week marks the first ever Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW) in New York State. In a proclamation signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, July 6th to the 12th has been designated as a time for, “residents and visitors alike … to learn more about these invasive species and their damaging environmental, societal, and economic impact on New York State, the nation, and the entire world.”
Plant species like giant hogweed can be particularly hazardous. Highway Department employees are often exposed to this noxious weed, with sap so toxic that it can cause scarring. Other species are less directly harmful but produce monocultures in once-diverse environments as they choke out existing native species. Education is key to understanding invasives and preventing their spread.
ISAW was modeled after the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program’s (APIPP) Invasive Species Awareness Week that has already been running for nine years. Hilary Smith, Director of APIPP, explained that:
“We see impacts to our recreation and our natural resources, to agriculture and human health. We even see impacts to our built environment such as our roadway infrastructure. But there are also simple steps that the public can take to prevent the spread of invasive species. And that’s what this week is all about: providing an understanding about what invasive species are and ways to get involved to protect New York’s great resources.”
Citizens will be engaged in a wide variety of events across the state for the rest of July. Residents will be able to help pull invasives in state parks, attend interpretive walks and much more. A complete list of the events sponsored by the eight Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management can be found here.