Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reporting invasive species in Illinois

We know that almost anywhere you go in Illinois, you can likely find at least one invasive species.

Japanese chaff flower spread
along the Ohio River
What we don't have a clear idea of is which species are where.  Sometimes a new infestation of an invasive species is totally unexpected and seemingly can come out of nowhere (as did the recently discovered two new populations of Japanese stiltgrass in McHenry County).  Other times we can better predict and actually expect a new invader to show up on an established spread corridor (as did Japanese chaff flower spreading down the Ohio River).

What is important is being able to track those populations of invasive species that we do know about.  Having a good idea of the distribution of invasive species across the state helps us to plan and prioritize where and what to control and what to species to expect to show up in the future.

If you deal with invasive species in Illinois (either as part of your 'day job', as a volunteer, or on your own land), there are resources available that both allows you to see the distribution of invasive species in Illinois and lets you add to those maps by submitting new findings.

EDDMapS (www.eddmaps.org) is an online mapping system built specifically for tracking the distribution of invasive species.  This is a nationwide program so you can not only see what species are invading Illinois, you can also view those same species across the nation.  Anyone can view this information, and, with a simple and free sign-up, anyone can enter data on new findings.

The folks that developed EDDMapS has helped create two applications specifically for sections of Illinois.

If you live in Northeast Illinois, the New Invaders Watch Program, utilizes this mapping system on their website (www.newinvaders.org).  Better yet, when you enter a new infestation on a parcel of public land, the  managing agency is automatically alerted to that fact.

In southern Illinois, the River to River CWMA has mapping and data entry functions on its website (www.rtrcwma.org).  You can find the report sightings function here.  Both of these systems are tied together and share data.

Take a look at these systems and if you find something new in your area, please add it to the map and help out the statewide effort.

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