5 Ways You Can Combat Invasive Species
Every year since 2010 the National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) takes place to encourage education and participation in efforts against invasive species throughout the U.S. The efforts are split into 2 weeks of the year so that NISAW has the opportunity to educate and practice 2 of the most important parts of battling invasives.
The first part of NISAW takes place in late February and focuses on legislation and policies surrounding invasive species and their management. During another week in May, the NISAW resumes, focusing on outreach and education efforts.
During both weeks of NISAW, local community members and officials put their best foot forward in actions to remove invasive species and educate their communities on them.
In keeping up with doing our part, this week (and every day) Plant Sentry™ will also be focusing on invasive species education and efforts to combat them.
This leads us to here, in this wonderful blog where we’re going to cover 5 ways for you to combat invasive species in honor of National Invasive Species Awareness Week!
1. Preventing the Spread
When it comes to invasive species experts recognize that one of the best management practices is preventative measures. Too often invasives crowd out native plants and animals placing a strain on the natural resources of their environment.
A major resource in preventing the spread of invasives has been educating community members on the dos and don’ts of their environment. A top resource and educator in these preventive measures has been the Play Clean Go project .
Play Clean Go is an education program designed to bolster other education efforts in offering tips and tools (literally) to help prevent the spread of invasive species. PlayCleanGo recognizes that people spread invasive species and because of that, they can also help prevent the spread.
As humans, we’re constantly on the go, and with the dirt and pieces of the environment that we move, so do the invasives with it.
We often unknowingly transfer invasive species with our travel and transport of items from one place to another.
1. The bottom of your shoes!
Say you’re up in the mountains hiking, but earlier that same week you were in a field full of invasive species. If you haven’t cleaned your shoes between trips, chances are you just transferred the invasive species to this mountain environment.
It’s easy to think of the dirt on your shoes as just that, but if you’re tracking serious amounts of mud and dirt, there’s a chance you could be carrying an invasive.
A great way to combat this type of spread is to clean your shoes between hikes, and every time you leave a different environment. Invasives cause tremendous amounts of damage in North America and it is up to each of us to do what we can to prevent their spread.
Does your shoe have hard-to-clean grooves? PlayCleanGo sells easy-to-pack and carry brushes that are perfect for picking mud and dirt out of those hard-to-reach grooves .
2. Vehicle Tires!
Much like the bottoms of your hiking boots, tires are filled with nice little nooks and crannies that are perfect for picking up invasive plant seeds and insects. A great way to help prevent the spread of these nuisances is to avoid taking your vehicle on unpaved roads and into areas where invasives have been sighted. While it can be challenging to resist the urge to go off-roading, doing so can protect your environment from unwanted destruction.
If you just can’t help yourself, be sure you clean the tires as well as possible before leaving the infected area.
This is a big one! Firewood is a leading cause of the spread of invasive species. So much so, that many National and State parks throughout the country will not let you bring your own firewood when camping.
Many invasive species are able to burrow and hide in cut wood and sustain harsh temperatures. As a result, when the wood is transferred to a new location, the invasives are given a new home and a new opportunity for destruction!
When camping or wanting to use firewood, purchase locally! The opportunity to buy firewood is never going to be too far from the opportunity to hike and camp. Pick some up from a local or nearby store and prevent the risk of spreading invasives!
2. Identifying Invasive Species
Now that you know a few tips on how to prevent the spread of invasives, you might be wondering what it is these invasives look like. Well, that’s a great wonder!
The trouble with invasives is that they’re different for every state and every environment. Take Barberry (Berberis sp.) for example. While the majority of the Eastern part of the U.S. identifies it as a state-recognized invasive species, many states west of Indiana do not list it as invasive.
Knowing the list of invasives for each of the states you visit should be on your list of things to do if you plan on spending some time outside.  If you’re hiking in California, take a look at their invasives lists. If you’re visiting Florida, take a look at their invasives lists.
Half the trouble with invasive species is that once they’ve arrived it can be challenging to locate each and every one of them roaming around their new environment. Identification and removal is a key effort in fighting invasives when they first arrive, so an extra set of eyes wouldn’t hurt!
Prepared with a list of what to look for, if an invasive species is spotted you can report it to the necessary agencies that can come and remove it. 
3. Educating Others
Another part of the challenge in fighting against invasives isn’t just that they compete with native plants and species, but it’s also letting other people know! These newly introduced species often take hold early on in their new environments and community members aren’t given enough information about them.
Sometimes this is because we as a newly affected community don’t always know how they’re going to infect our environment, but also, because the word isn’t getting out.
When it comes to invasive species, always share the information! Tell your friends and family members about them and ask them to report them if they’re sighted.
Teamwork makes the dream for an invasive free habitat work! When in doubt refer back to the various experts that specialize in invasive species.
4. Legislative Action
As with anything that is going to affect your environment, some of the best actions you can take will be from the top of the regulatory food chain, legislation.
While many of us hate to see it come to legislative action, sometimes strict enforcement of policy is necessary to get everyone on the same page. Laws and regulations that have been passed surrounding alien species are put in place to protect U.S. land and citizens.
When it comes to helping fight against invasive species, legislative actions can benefit your environment and make it more manageable for your local resources to beat them!
5. Kicking Them Out!
It’s pretty obvious at this point that invasive species just aren’t something that we want around. When it comes to getting rid of them, all the other steps before this will help in finding them, preventing them, and spreading them, but what about actually removing them?
Throughout the U.S. volunteer efforts are put together so that you can get out and help remove invasive species!
There’s a number of different activities that you can participate in to help, but joining a local group or organization to clean up invasive species can make a big difference against invasives. Visit the USDA’s Take Action page for more information on getting involved in the removal of invasive species in your area.
A Job Well Done
Every year the battle against these species costs the United States taxpayers millions of dollars in corrective and preventive action. With the tips from this blog, you should feel empowered and able to positively impact your community and their battle against invasive species.
Whether your area is fighting the Asian carp, the African snail, the brown tree snake, or the Asian longhorn beetle, there’s a way for you to stop their spread.
Throughout the next week and the warmer months to come I hope the tools we’ve given you today will encourage you to reach out in your community and fight invasive species, just like us at Plant Sentry™!