Alaska Invasives Conference Highlights

The Alaska Committee for Noxious and Invasive Plant Management and the Alaska Invasive Species Working Group organize this conference annually. It was Fairbanks’ turn in the rotation to host this years conference from November 5-7, 2013. The event brings together a range of expertise in a forum for discussion and presentation of relevant research and management trends. I co-presented on behalf of the Central Yukon Field Office along with the Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge Wildlife Biology, Tim Craig. I shared the results of our inventory and discussed the BLM strategic plan for managing invasive plants (particulary Vicia cracca and Melilotus albus). Tim looked at the management efforts from a historical perspective (click here to view sideshow). Tributaries of the Koyukuk watershed are vectors that threaten to transport propagules from bridge crossings into the Kanuti NWF. This has prompted the consideration of cross-boundary collaboration and the potential formation of a Cooperative Weed Management Area.

Opportunities to collaborate and network were abound. State and non-state organizations were represented, including researchers from the University of Alaska and keynote speaker Jason Fridley, Syracuse University.

Highlights relevant to my personal and professional interests were:

  • study of degradation rates of herbicides in cold temperatures
  • community citizen science programs (Melibee Project)
  • state and federal integrated vegetation management plans
  • opportunities for CWMA partnership with Fairbanks district
  • potential indicator variables for phenological monitoring
  • best management practices for invasive plant management

The most intriguing concept relevant to my work at BLM was the need for long-term phenological monitoring data. Understanding the ecosystem vulnerabilities and management opportunities that anomalous climate years present in threatened boreal habitats could serve to reduce socioeconomic and ecological impacts.



Invasives Debate

Here is a quote from an article I read this week:

“Conservationist should assess organisms on environmental impact rather than on whether they are natives…” June 9, 2011 Nature

I thought that this would make for an interesting conversation among the weed warriors in the group that have been pondering the management issue.

Personally, I am on the fence. It can take years to collect enough data to be able to say with any certainty that a species has a serious environmental impact. By then, the invasive may be well established and more difficult to eradicate. On the other hand, spending money to control a species that ultimately would have had no significant impact is a waste of limited land management resources.