NYSDEC and the New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) released a new Smartphone application to help citizens and conservation professionals quickly and easily report new invasive species sightings directly to NY’s invasive species database from their phones. DEC, NYNHP and the Catskills Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) will hold an invasive species Mapping Bio-Blitz workshop:
Date: Tuesday May 8, 2012
Time: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Place: Town of Saugerties Library
91 Washington Avenue
The event starts at the Town of Saugerties Library for an orientation and brief training. Next the volunteers will carpool to the Esopus Creek Conservancy’s Esopus Bend Preserve (EBP) to walk the woodland trails and map invasive species and will return to the library to view their real-time contributions to the database. Invasive plant ID guides and trail maps will be provided. Remember to bring: Smartphone, water, snack, insect repellent, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, appropriate clothing and footwear. Preregistration is highly recommended, however, walk-in volunteers are welcome. To preregister online, go to: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHNlYXl4TUY2cmt0T1hjN3Zsd0ZBT3c6MQ#gid=0
“Invasive species cause significant ecological and economic damage throughout New York State and some invasive species have overtaken critical habitat for threatened and endangered species,” said Kathy Moser, DEC’s Assistant Commissioner of Natural Resources and co-chair of the NYS Invasive Species Council (ISC).
Invasive species are species that are not native to an ecosystem and can cause significant harm to our environment economy or health. Invasive species such as the northern snakehead fish, hydrilla and the Asian clam threaten New York’s aquatic resources. Asian Longhorned beetle threatens our hardwoods, especially maple trees and the maple industry and emerald ash borer is killing ash trees in several counties across New York State. Giant hogweed, another invasive plant, poses a health hazard to humans.
Detecting invasive species early is the key to successful control. Most reports of invasive that DEC receives come from concerned citizens. In the hands of citizen scientists and volunteers, this new technology allows users to collect and enter invasive species sighting data, in real time, directly to iMapInvasives, New York’s online invasive species database. Data entered by citizens provides essential information to New York’s natural resource preserve managers, regional planners and other land managers to help them plan and prioritize invasive species control projects and other work aimed at preventing the spread of invasive species.
“This technology makes collecting invasive species data easier for the general public and will help to increase awareness of this issue,” said Alan White, Director of Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and the Catskills Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP).
“We encourage citizen scientists to learn how to identify invasive species and contribute their observation data to the database for greater public awareness and engagement in New York’s efforts to control the spread of invasive species,” said D.J. Evans, New York Natural Heritage Program Director.
Mobile technology is a great way to involve students. A summer after-school program in Chenango County used iMapInvasives for an invasive plant project in a local park and was a useful hands on activity for the students. “The students really enjoyed finding, identifying, taking pictures and using the GPS units. The fact that their data was going into a state-wide system made it much more important for them,” said Rebecca Hargrave, Cornell Cooperative Extension Educator.