To protect the biodiversity of the ecosystems from invasive species on our nature preserves and across the region, says Brian Daggs, invasive plant ecologist with WPC’s Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, the Conservancy takes a multi-pronged approach by participating in:

  • Education and public engagement, especially through the iMapInvasives annual invasive species scavenger hunt each August. “The hunt puts more ‘eyes on the ground’ to observe species for which we need more good data,” says Brian. Learn more at PAiMapInvasives.org/events.
  • Statewide partnerships to coordinate the management of invasive species. The Conservancy a member of three of Pennsylvania’s four Cooperative Weed Management Areas. These partnerships of county, state and federal agencies, nonprofits, businesses and landowners raise awareness about invasive species and control their spread. “This year, thanks to funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation,” Brian says, “we’re engaging more partners statewide–such as the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and other land trusts–to monitor and manage invasive species through a focal lens at key sites that are biodiversity hotspots.”In northwest Pennsylvania, WPC Ecologist Noah Yawn, left, maps invasives on a variety of properties and WPC Seasonal Ecologist Mitchell Meuser, right, maps invasives on State Game Lands.
  • On-the-ground surveys of biodiverse areas for invasive species. Three ecologists map invasive  populations in northwest Pennsylvania. One is funded to do work specifically on state game lands.
  • Governor’s Invasive Species Council, which identifies invasive species that threaten or could threaten Pennsylvania’s natural and agricultural resources and the industries they support. Several Conservancy staff participate on the council.

The Council recommends adoption of a Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) approach to more effectively manage invasive species in Pennsylvania, modeled after a successful program in New York.

Mary Walsh, zoology manager with the Conservancy’s Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, explains that PRISM would have a lead organization in each of six state regions; in each region, a partnership would develop programs for monitoring and managing invasive species.

“Current invasive species management is underfunded and not keeping up with the growing problem that impacts landowners, industries and farmers,” Mary says. “Ideally, each PRISM would be a local program that would address the most pressing invasive threats that impact critical habitats, native species and ecosystem services in that region.”

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About the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy:
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) enhances the region by protecting and restoring exceptional places. A private nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1932, WPC has helped establish 11 state parks, conserved more than a quarter million acres of natural lands, protected or restored more than 3,000 miles of rivers and streams, and assessed thousands of wildlife species and their habitats. The Conservancy owns and operates Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and symbolizes people living in harmony with nature. In addition, WPC enriches our region’s cities and towns through 130 community gardens and other green spaces and thousands of trees that are planted with the help of more than 7,000 volunteers. The work of the Conservancy is accomplished through the support of more than 10,000 members. For more information, visit WaterLandLife.org or Fallingwater.org.