Timing is critical when responding to the initial detection of a newly arriving or emerging invasive species. Early Detection and Rapid Response – spotting and responding to the invasion of an unwanted plant, animal or other organism while it is in low abundance is often the key first step in effectively managing and possibly eradicating a newly-arriving invasive species.
The amount of time we can realistically spend surveying our vulnerable waterbodies, wetlands and upland areas is often limited. The SLELO region alone is over 7,387 square miles of land and water surface making it unfeasible to conduct a full survey of the entire area, it therefor makes sense to focus investigative efforts on Priority Conservation Areas or PCA’s while at the same time expanding this capacity through Volunteer Surveillance Networks.
During our strategic planning process, partners of the SLELO PRISM identified 23 PCA’s on which to focus our early detection efforts. These PCA’s are areas with uniqueness or ecological importance such as unique habitat, grassland, alvar, wetland, dune, freshwater spawning area, fen, bog, etc. PCA’s should also be host to a rare, threatened or endangered species. Our current capacity allows our Early Detection Team to survey all of the 23 PCA’s on a two-year rotation. Other important areas or areas that are privately owned are simply beyond our reach.
In an effort to conduct early detection surveillance on areas outside of our PRISM’s PCA’s we advocate for the establishment of Voluntary Surveillance Networks or VSN’s. VSN’s allow local stakeholders to take stewardship of their favorite landscape or waterbody. PRISM staff and partners can train volunteers on how to conduct searches and how to identify various species that pose a threat to these ecosystems. Joining a voluntary surveillance team is a great way to spend time outdoors and its fun! If you are interested in joining a VSN please visit the Learn & Help page of this website.