ALBANY - The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program has received the 2013 National Invasive Species Awareness Week Award for Outstanding Achievement in Invasive Species Leadership.
APIPP is a partnership program founded by The Nature Conservancy's Adirondack Chapter, the New York state departments of Environmental Conservation and Transportation and the Adirondack Park Agency.
The national recognition is for APIPP's leadership in invasive species prevention and control, including collaboration and coalition building. DEC Commissioner Joe Martens presented the award to APIPP Director Hilary Smith during a Forestry Awareness Day celebration at the Legislative Office Building in Albany Tuesday, March 19._
The first program of its kind in New York state, APIPP started in 1998 as a grassroots effort to implement a landscape-level approach to address threats posed by invasive species and minimize costs to governments, businesses and landowners. It has since harnessed the energies of hundreds of volunteers, forged countless partnerships and influenced local and statewide action against invasive species.
APIPP served as the model for seven other programs, known as Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM), now supported in large part through the state's Environmental Protection Fund. The program has also shared best practices at Weeds Across Borders conferences in Mexico and Canada.
"We are deeply honored by this recognition, which affirms the importance of local action and strong partnerships," said Hilary Smith.
A TOP THREAT
Invasive species are a top threat to lands and waters. Invasive animals and plants drive out native species and upset the food chain, ruin crops, degrade forests and fisheries, negatively impact recreation and can harm humans.
They typically come from other parts of the world and, in the absence of natural checks and balances, rapidly reproduce and spread. Japanese knotweed, spiny water flea and Eurasian water milfoil are among the most threatening invasives in the Adirondacks. Emerald ash borer, Asian longhorn beetle and hydrilla are nearby.
Researchers estimate invasive species cause environmental losses and damages of nearly $120 billion a year nationwide.
WHAT APIPP DOES
APIPP's work includes the following.
· Instituting early detection programs with hundreds of volunteers surveying lands and waters and gathering important baseline data to help identify priority areas for prevention and management.
· Directly reaching more than 1,000 citizens a year through education programs, such as free training in forest pest detection, aquatic invasive species identification and invasive plant management techniques.
· Reaching thousands of people through a seasonal news column, Eye on Invasives, published in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and Adirondack Express newspapers in Saranac Lake and Old Forge respectively.
· Leveraging private funds to deploy professional rapid response teams to eradicate new infestations encroaching ecologically significant areas.
· Helping support boat launch stewardship programs that reach more than 30,000 boaters a year.