July 6, 2014

New York dedicates week to invasive species education

When I was a child, we played hide and seek in the meadows — ducking down in the tall grass and staying still until the person who was “it” found us or until we could safely crawl or scramble to home base. 

We never worried about ticks or poison parsnip.

After playing in the fields and woods, we ran to the lake and swam. I never owned a pair of swimming shoes and would have laughed at anyone who swam in shoes.

These times are gone and the change is serious.

Protection from tick-borne disease, poison parsnip burns and zebra mussel cuts is a necessity of daily life for people who use the outdoors. I make protection a priority in two ways — knowing how to detect what might hurt me and aggressively doing what I can to eliminate harmful species from areas I care about.

This year, July 6 through 12 is New York’s inaugural Invasive Species Awareness Week.

Although the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) has hosted Adirondack Invasive Species Awareness Week for eight years, this is the first year for a statewide effort.

Because invasive species threaten every ecosystem, widespread cooperation is what it will take to keep our waters, woods and farms healthy.

As with disturbances in human health, the key to controlling disturbances in our ecosystem health is early detection. The key to early detection is for everyone who is outside to know what he or she is seeing. I confess to going a little numb when I am heading out for an excursion and I am faced with reading a pamphlet or a display, but I am committed to informing myself.

If a quick read or a quick conversation with a boat launch steward will keep me up to date on new arrivals or easier methods of keeping my gear invasive-free, I’m going to take the time to read and learn.

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