Vermont leaning on public in invasive species battle

An ECO AmeriCorps member removes invasives at Lake St. Catherine State Park as part of the state’s efforts to combat non-native, invasive plants and animals and protect native ecosystems. (Vermont Fish & Wildlife)

MONTPELIER, Vt. – The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is encouraging the public to learn more about invasive species and help combat their spread.

Landowners can play an important role in controlling non-native, invasive plants such as knotweed and buckthorn, while boaters and anglers can help prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species such as spiny water fleas and Asian clams. This spring and summer will provide opportunities for both groups to assist the state in combatting these species.

Plants and animals not naturally found in Vermont are usually spread inadvertently. Minus natural predators or competition, invasives can outcompete native species and quickly crowd them out, costing the nation an estimated $120 billion a year through agricultural damage, decreased property values, and lost tourism revenues.

A new resource gives Vermonters information about how to easily identify invasive species and provides recommendations for removing them or preventing their spread. The LIEP program (short for Locate, Identify, Evaluate and treat, and Prevent) is an online tool landowners, boaters, anglers, and concerned citizens can use to prevent the spread of invasive species.

“Becoming informed about invasive species around your home and property and taking the steps to remove or control them is incredibly important to support conservation efforts in Vermont,” said Dave Adams, a Fish & Wildlife Department biologist who works with private landowners to improve habitat.

Adams recommends that people remove non-native, invasive plants, such as barberry and honeysuckle, manually using shovels or weed wrenches, or spot treating them with herbicide.  He adds that washing tractors before using them on different properties or checking hiking poles for seeds and plant fragments are further important steps the public can take to prevent these species’ spread.

For aquatic invasives such as alewife and water chestnut, preventing the spread of these species is the most important step in combatting them. An avid angler himself, Adams reminds boaters to clean, drain and dry their boats and trailers after each use and before using equipment on a new body of water.

Vermonters can find information about the LIEP program and resources for preventing the spread of invasive species at the Fish and Wildlife Department’s website, vtfishandwildlife.com.

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