A Neighborhood Watch Program for Invasive Plants

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Volunteers are needed to get involved, and help share their knowledge invasive plant infestations in their towns, as well as to head out in the field to collect new data. Interested volunteers can email wrwisp@gmail.com or call us at 413.268.8219 for more information or to get involved.

Check out the Highlands list of the Least Wanted invasive species.

Find a comprehensive list of invasives at the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England.

 

  

They are stealthy. They don’t respect property lines. And they spread surprisingly quickly for something rooted in the ground! When aggressive, invasive plants threaten the health of our local rivers, fields, and woodlands, its time for neighbors to band together.

This reasoning has brought several nonprofits together in a new partnership to fight the spread of invasive species in the Westfield river watershed, including local and statewide land trusts and government agencies.

Called the Westfield Invasive Species Partnership (WISP), the idea was born from the concern of Trustees’ Regional Ecologist Julie Richburg, who saw that the watershed was beginning to experience rapidly spreading populations of invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed and garlic mustard. The plants were firmly established in certain areas, but had not yet reached others. The time to act to keep these species and other new ones on the way from spreading was now, and it required a larger focus area than the property of any single landowner or organization. 

The partnership now includes representatives from The Nature Conservancy, Mass Audubon, the New England Wildflower Society, the Westfield River Wild and Scenic Advisory Committee, Westfield Environmental Center at Westfield State College, the Hilltown Land Trust, and the MA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation’s Service Forestry and Forest Stewardship programs. The goal of the partnership is to work with residents and landowners in the watershed by providing and collecting information on invasive species, and join together to eradicate existing infestations of invasive plants and to prevent new ones.

The WISP builds on the momentum that HCI created last year with its ‘Least Wanted’ informational campaign about several species of top concern. With some funding from the federal stimulus program, The Nature Conservancy is providing staff time to help get the new effort up and running. One of the first steps for the partnership is to survey areas in the watershed that are both heavily infested with invasives and those that are relatively free from the aggressive invaders. Thanks to small grants from HCI and the Westfield River Wild and Scenic program, WISP is also sponsoring research and a new guidance document for local conservation commissions about permitting invasive removal projects that entail herbicides in or near wetlands. There’s also an iPhone application in the works at UMass Amherst to help identify and map invasives from your mobile phone.