Environmental Review Toolkit
Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife

DOT employees in the field gather behind a vehicle along a rural road holding bunches of invasive wetland plants that were removed from nearby marsh.
Effort to physically remove invasive Phragmites (New York DOT)
Rural road with guard rail and adjacent wetland area and forest in background.
Site of previous Phragmites removal along Route 73 (New York DOT)
Rural road with dense green vegetation in roadway ditch. Vegetation has white flowers. Highway Department employee examining plants in ditch.
Stand of invasive Wild chervil along Route 73 (New York DOT)

New York State Department of Transportation

Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program

Pockets of common reed (Phragmites), and other innocent-sounding non-native plants are threatening the ecosystems of Upstate New York's Adirondack Park.

The spread of invasive, non-native plants could seriously damage or even destroy unique native plant communities, critical wildlife habitat, and scenic panoramas in the 6-million-acre park.

The problem plant species are primarily concentrated along transportation corridors, brought by unsuspecting residents and tourists and by vehicles traveling through the park.

Since 1998, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has been working with other government agencies and non-governmental organizations to control the spread of invasive species in the park. Now, NYSDOT has formalized these partnership efforts in a collaborative Invasive Plant Program (IPP). Together with four of its partners--The Nature Conservancy, the Adirondack Park Agency, the Invasive Plant Council of New York, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation--NYSDOT is continuing the work begun years earlier to detect infestations of invasive aquatic and terrestrial plants before they become established and spread.

The IPP has become a comprehensive, regional invasive plant program engaging professionals and the public alike and providing critical information on which management strategies can be built. To do this, the IPP uses the best available science, including a Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping tool pioneered by NYSDOT to relate known locations of invasive species to the State highway route marker system so the locations can be seen on interactive maps. The GIS maps will be integrated with a tracking database system used statewide.

Since its beginning in 1998, the IPP has expanded to involve numerous professional and volunteer groups, among them Americorps, the Boquet River Association, the Cornell Cooperative Extension Unit, the Franklin County Network of Shoreline Associations, the Lake Champlain Sea Grant, the Student Conservation Association, and the Residents Committee for the Protection of the Adirondacks.

One of the latest groups to get involved has been the Adirondack Mountain Club with more than 20,000 members. The Club has written articles and conducted training sessions on how to recognize invasive plants in the back country.

Controlling invasive plant species in the Adirondacks is largely a matter of experimentation-trying out different control methods and combining different strategies. Experiments in burying Japanese knotweed under project waste material and geotextile fabric have been 100% successful. At Long Lake--a 10-mile section of the park being used for various combinations of hand-pulling, herbicide applications, and mowing practices to eradicate purple loosestrife--IPP biologists are also learning which combinations work best. And throughout the park, roadside projects are using certified weed-free straw mulch to control the spread of invasive plant species.

As for common reed . . . At Indian Lake, it was removed and composted for three years under black plastic. The composted material has now been transferred to a landscaping berm at a DOT location where it can be watched to make sure the invasive plant doesn't spread.

For more information, contact Ed Frantz at efrantz@dot.state.ny.us.

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