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Environment / By Will Elliott: Programs weed out invasive species

Weeds and nasty plant growth might not be all that visible under this winter’s hefty pilings of snow, but invasive pest and plant life continue to increase in numbers and species varieties.

This week has been designated National Invasive Species Awareness Week, and organizations have set up classroom and field sessions to help identify the many insidious invaders that have endangered native plant species and have become rooted in area soils.

Andrea Locke, Western New York coordinator for PRISM (Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management), will be involved with three free public programs this week that can help landowners, gardeners, wildlife watchers and all interested in outdoors outcomes to learn more about identifying and possibly curbing the introduction and spread of unwanted invaders that reduce and possibly replace native plant and tree life.

On Monday, Locke travels to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute at 311 Curtis St. in Jamestown for an afternoon session on “Forest Pest First Detector Training.”

Classroom instruction begins at 12:30 p.m. and goes until about 2:30 p.m. After class, attendees are invited to participate in an HWA (Hemlock Woolly Adelgid) survey at the nearby Jamestown Community College campus. Attendees should bring cold-weather clothing.

While the emerald ash borer has received considerable attention, HWA presents a serious threat to hemlock growth in area forests. For more details on this training session, check with Elyse Henshaw at 665-2473 (Ext. 231) or email ehenshaw@rtpi.org.

On Tuesday, WNY PRISM and Cornell Cooperative Extension host a training session at Genesee County Cooperative Extension, 420 East Main St. in Batavia, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Joanna Fisher, a doctoral candidate in entomology at Cornell University, will conduct sessions on the emerald ash borer, HWA and the Asian longhorned beetle.

Fisher will possibly hold a field session after the 3 p.m. class session ends. For more information about the Batavia training session, check with Brandie Schultz at (585) 343-3040 (Ext. 101) or email bls238@cornell.edu.

The aim of both these forest pest sessions is to focus on identifying three seriously destructive invasive pests.

A Bond Lake Environmental and Beautification Committee program on Saturday keys on a wide variety of invasive plant species. Locke will provide a powerpoint presentation at the Bond Lake Nature Center, 2571 Lower Mountain Road in Lewiston from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Locke conducted a steward’s survey on Bond Lake grounds last year and identified 27 invasive plant-life species around the lake.

“We found purple loosetrife and garlic mustard, two dominant invaders, but the most invasive and widespread discovery was multaflora rose growth, which is often spread by mowing or by birds,” Locke said of that survey, which also included buckthorn and honeysuckle bush growth.

Among invasive grasses, Locke’s stewards found Canada thistle, a creeping perennial that develops thick root growth; birdsfoot trefoil, which forms dense mats that block other grass growth; and sweet clover, which, unlike agricultural clover, grows to 3 to 5 feet and shades out other grasses.

Carol Schmelz, Bond Lake publicity chairman, has abundant information about plant life that might be lurking in your own backyard. Schmelz can provide more information on this invasive plant species presentation and other Bond Lake programs. For details and to pre-register for the Saturday WNY PRISM program, call Schmelz at 694-3488.

If you happen to miss these three gatherings, New York State is celebrating its second annual Invasive Species Awareness Week July 12 to 18, providing information to all. From hikers to highway personnel, from birders to boaters and from farmers to foresters, this summer program will help anyone to identify and to possibly curtail unwanted invaders’ introductions and propagations. For more on programs planned for this awareness week, visit nisaw.org.

email: odrswill@gmail.com