Article contributed by SLELO Partner, Maria Cipullo with Office of Parks Recreation and Historical Preservation.
The Thousand Islands State Parks region has brought on seven new Student Conservation Association (SCA) members through its NYS Parks Corps program. This is a three-way partnership between SCA, NYS OPRHP, and AmeriCorps aimed to make volunteer service a realistic venture for young adults by providing on-site housing and hands-on training applicable to a career in environmental studies.
This year, the program has four Conservation Stewards who will work throughout the Thousand Islands region; which covers Eastern Lake Ontario, up the St. Lawrence River, and over to Lake Champlain. They work on sustainable trails, carpentry projects, chainsaw safety, and a variety of invasive species management initiatives. We also have three Environmental Educators based out of the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center who design and implement programs for all age groups that often showcase the impacts and management of invasive species.
Since 2019, the SCA crew has improved 90 acres of park land, 2 miles of shoreline from the impacts of invasives, and mapped 650 acres for the occurrence of invasive species. In addition, the crew has participated in the Park’s Plant Materials Program and collected seeds from 11 different wetland species in order to revegetate areas where Phragmites has been treated.
This year, the program will include the following invasive projects:
- Terrestrial surveys and long term treatment planning
- Habitat restoration for Blanding’s turtles at a herbicide treatment site for Phragmites.
- Buckthorn bagging and honeysuckle removal along scenic vista ridgelines to re-establish pollinator habitat.
- Emerald Ash Borer funnel trapping, and delineation of girdled trees to look for larvae.
- Controlling swallow-wort by digging out the root crown and experimenting with solarization techniques.
- Removal of oriental bittersweet vines starting with outlier populations.
- Hand pulling variable-leaf watermilfoil during a county-wide drawdown and volunteer effort on the Raquette River.