In today’s post, Amy Hall, resource management group leader, brings us up to date on invasive species and shares some of the excellent prevention work being done in Pinery Provincial Park.
It’s Invasive Species Awareness Week!
No matter what role you play in parks, you are an essential part of preventing the spread of invasive species in Ontario.
Which of these anti-invasion heroes look like you?
The Camper – problems with wood
It’s Victoria Day weekend. You’re heading to your favorite provincial park to start summer and the last thing on your mind is invasive species.
When the emerald ash borer was first detected in Ontario in 2002, restricting the movement of firewood was all the hype. However, since the emerald ash borer has become so widespread across Ontario and North America, the invasive species that spreads through firewood has fallen off many people’s radar.
However, the spread of invasive species through firewood remains a major threat to Ontario’s forests. A single piece of firewood can destroy millions of trees.
Emerald ash borer-infected tree removed from Port Burwell Provincial Park campground
We ask campers to always purchase firewood locally and to burn it where you buy it.
The walker: tread carefully
If you’ve ever come across a common burdock, you know how effective some plant species are at spreading their seeds. Well-intentioned hikers can easily spread invasive species unknowingly by carrying seeds, spores, and even insect larvae on their clothing or boot treads.
Invasive species can hitchhike from park to park and, in some cases, even cross oceans to entirely new continents! It is important for hikers to be aware of these threats and properly clean equipment between hikes.
Pinery Provincial Park has installed boot brushes at the trailheads of all trails within the park to reduce the spread of invasive species.
Something as easy as running your boots through a boot brush before hitting the hike could make a big difference in Ontario’s provincial parks!
The Boater – row with determination
Zebra mussels need no introduction.
Many Ontarians know about zebra mussels from seeing them on Great Lakes beaches, but did you know that zebra mussels arrived in the Great Lakes via ship ballasts? In fact, this was a common scenario for the arrival of invasive species in the Great Lakes for many decades.
When we think about the spread of invasive species through water, we think of large boats on large lakes or rivers. However, we must also consider smaller vessels, such as canoes and kayaks, as invasion vectors.
Whether you’re paddling a single kayak across small lakes and rivers or driving a motorized boat on the Great Lakes, it’s important to properly clean your boat and boating equipment between trips.
You can help prevent the spread of phragmites, zebra mussels, water chestnuts and other invasive species through responsible boating practices.
The Angler – “addressing” invasive spread
Cleaning tackle between fishing trips is an important practice to help prevent the spread of invasive species.
However, a less obvious culprit is the bait at the end of the line.
At the end of a long day of fishing, many people throw the remains of bait and dirt into the water or nearby land. This is problematic because it can introduce non-native species of worms, as well as other seeds or invasive soil microorganisms.
Here at Pinery, we created an incentive program for anglers. Return your fishing bait container (along with the dirt) to the park store and you’ll win a free popsicle!
The naturalist: experience, equipment and education.
One of the best ways to prevent the spread of invasive species is to track them. However, for park naturalists and resource management staff, that’s not always possible.
In many cases, to better understand our parks and conduct ecosystem management, we must go out of our way. However, Ontario Parks staff receive special training and follow specific practices (such as the Clean Equipment Protocol) to protect parks from invasive species.
Another way to reduce the spread of invasive species in our parks is through education.
Our Discovery staff conducts programs to teach our visitors about invasive species in the parks. We design brochures and posters to place in comfort stations and in our Visitor Centers.
Sometimes we even write blog posts to reach far away visitors.
Are you with us?
We hope visitors will think about invasive species this week and carry these thoughts and actions forward each time they visit the parks.
By working together, no matter our role in the parks, we can help prevent the spread of invasive species and defend the ecological integrity of our parks and wild spaces.
Do you want to act right now?
Share this blog post on your favorite social media site to help us spread the word about invasive species and inspire future heroes.