In early 2012, the SLELO partners completed an intensive strategic planning process that included many approaches and strategies designed to effectively prevent and manage invasive species in our region. In recent years our partners have developed additional protocols that help guide our successes to achieve the greatest conservation value to our lands and waters. Lest we forget that our work is guided by collaborative decisions worthy of an occasional refresher. Following are some brief descriptions of our PRISM’s approaches and strategies.
All taxa with two species lists:
With over 103 invasive plants and 77 invasive animals found across New York State, it is important to focus on all taxa that pose a threat to high value land and water resources. To be focused and effective, our partners have developed two species lists. The first is our Prevention List (a.k.a. Watch List) which is a list of species not currently found in the SLELO region but post a clear and present danger to the region. If found early when in low abundance, these species can likely be eradicated or contained. The second is our Target Management List, those species currently found in the region for which we target management efforts as resources allow.
Invasive Curve as a guide:
Once a species becomes widespread and abundant, it is almost impossible to manage it requiring significant monetary and technical resources which in the end may not achieve measurable results. It therefor makes more sense to focus on Prevention List species and their early detection. The Invasive Curve (shown below) provides insight as to how we approach prevention, early detection and response efforts.
PCA’s and HPA’s:
Attempting to conduct early detection work on all 7,387 square miles of the SLELO Region is virtually impossible. To achieve the greatest level of efficiency, SLELO partners focus on Priority Conservation Areas or PCA’s. These are areas that have some ecological or cultural uniqueness such as unique habitat, grassland, alvar, wetland, dune, freshwater spawning area, fen, bog, etc., or that are important economically. Even some of our PCA’s pose a significant challenge for early detection work due to their size or landscape characteristics. To further increase effectiveness in our early detection work we focus our searches on Highly Probable Areas or HPA’s. These are areas, within PCA’s, where invasive species are most likely to arrive and/or establish themselves Combining the use of both PCA’s and HPA’s makes our work effective with tangible results.
Protocols for nominating species and PCA’s:
Two structured protocols have been developed by our partners to add either a new PCA or a new species to our lists. These protocols provide purpose, importance and a way of sharing information among our partners.
Work on private property:
We typically do not have the resources to conduct work on private property unless it is part of a larger conservation project or effort. Examples being the New York State Giant Hogweed Eradication Initiative or our Salmon River Restoration Initiative. We do, however, provide landowners with information that can help them prevent or manage invasives on their land.
The partners of the SLELO PRISM meet during the third week of every other month beginning in January and alternate between Wednesdays and Thursdays. Our Education and Outreach Committee meets on the in-between months.
We have three levels of participation to include: Principle Partners – representing organizations that demonstrate the greatest financial investment in the SLELO PRISM, those who have signed a Memorandum of Understanding as well as representatives from public agencies that have a vested interest in invasive species within the SLELO region. At-Large Partners – made up of one at-large representative from each of the (5) counties represented in the SLELO region. Cooperating Affiliates – Anyone who demonstrates an active interest and who support our mission.
Decision by consensus:
It has always been the desire of our partners to reach consensus on our approaches, strategies and work plans in the spirit of cooperation.
Since our PRISM was formalized, our partnership has grown to seventeen formal partners. We have implemented ecological restoration projects on the Salmon River and on Tug Hill. We have conducted early detection searches on all 25 PCA’s on a two-year rotation. We have had early detections of prevention list species (rusty crayfish and northern snakehead (the latter confirmation pending). We have implemented numerous spread prevention initiatives. We have eradicated 19 giant hogweed sites and we have implemented innovative technologies in our mission to protect ecologically important waterways and landscapes from the threat of invasive species.