Invasive Species Survey and Control
Pennsylvania Sea Grant recognizes the environmental and economic value of restoring waterways, and conserving land. Pennsylvania’s 76.6-miles of Lake Erie waterfront is a treasured resource for water sports enthusiasts, bird watchers, anglers, and vacationers.
Pennsylvania Sea Grant connects landowners, local land trusts, and state agencies to conserve open space, provide increased public fishing access, and to assist with the planning and implementation of recreational improvements throughout the region. Ecosystem benefits include the preservation of priority habitats in perpetuity, increased public access and opportunities for passive, nature-based recreation, and economic benefits include revenue from passive recreation such as overnight accommodations, and spending at local eateries and bait shops.
In 2012 natural and conservation resource managers working in the Lake Erie watershed highlighted the spread of invasive plant species as a critical threat to habitats of concern in Western Pennsylvania. As a result, a regional effort to combat the spread of invasive species began. The collaboration, formally called the Lake Erie Watershed Cooperative Weed Management Area (LEW-CWMA), focuses efforts on preserving the ecological integrity of properties located in the documented Natural Heritage Area properties – NAME OF AREA HERE – s. These properties contain species that are designated as rare, threatened, or endangered, and/or ecological communities of conservation concern. Reducing the density and prevalence of invasive plants improves habitat quality and increases the chance of survival for the species of concern.
Activities conducted by the partners of LEW-CWMA include conducting annual plant inventories and the removal of invasive species. In 2022 invasive plant species were cleared from 393 acres of land and another 2,400 acres were surveyed. The survey is being used to identify and prioritize future efforts. ADD AIS survey info. surveying waterbodies for aquatic invasive plant species – Hydrilla survey and control and rapid response (treatment) – (Elk Creek) – Amelia doing outreach to private pond owners to survey – to determine distribution.
The group plays a vital role in the region by identifying and prioritizing conservation needs, strategizing efforts to meet the needs, increasing capacity of individual agencies and organizations, and by securing funds to achieve success – healthy, protected Natural Heritage Areas.
Since 2012, over 2,167 acres have been preserved through these efforts. This includes 2.6 miles of Lake Erie shoreline and 19.59 miles of streams, now conserved and open for public access through passive recreation such as fishing and walking. In total, the economic value of the effort is over $15 million.
Tom Cermak, Pennsylvania Sea Grant Outreach Specialist, manages the group’s five-year plan and says, “These milestones of success are the result of dedicated partners who have invested hundreds of hours of their time over the past decade to ensuring that these Natural Heritage Areas are remain untainted by invasive species. Dealing with invasive species is unfortunately not a ‘once-and-done’ effort, it requires continual maintenance and dedicated resources to protect these spaces.”