This November, all three PRISM staff members attended the annual CCE In-Service at Cornell’s Ithaca Campus. The programming ranged over the course of the three day conference, from how to structure environmental messaging, advances in beneficial insect predators of invasive species, the use of drones in conservation, and the annual reports from each PRISM's Coordinator, which was tackled by Capital-Mohawk PRISM Coordinator Laurel Gailor. Her presentation’s theme was “At the Crossroads,” which pointed out how the Capital-Mohawk region is an important area in terms of transportation, shipping, and at the confluence of major waterways of New York, the Mohawk and Hudson rivers.
While we are literally at the crossroads of major highways and rivers (making the Capital-Mohawk region an extremely important area to work on invasive species that make use of those pathways for statewide spread), the PRISM itself is at a crossroads in terms of staffing and funding. Two coordinators, myself and Leah Gorman, have been brought on this year and we are currently in the final stages of application for the five-year grant that secures the PRISM funding through the DEC. All of us here at the PRISM are looking towards the future, increasing seasonal staff positions for the summer to tackle a variety of projects. We will again be utilizing the DEC ESF Intern program to bring on boat stewards and terrestrial scouting interns, starting to fill in data gaps in our region to access areas that are ecologically valuable and where we know relatively little about what invasives are found there. We also hope to bring on a Hemlock-specific intern due to the recent findings of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) in the Adirondacks and Schenectady County, to both scout for HWA and Elongate Hemlock Scale as well as assist with outreach and citizen science efforts to access the spread of these tree pests for the purpose of slowing down their spread throughout our state.
Biocontrol was a large part of the conference, especially with the Hemlock Initiative opening their new lab to all conference participants. Myself and Leah toured the facility, where they work to raise the HWA biocontrol beetle, Laricobus nigrinus. Other promising biocontrol insects are being researched at Cornell for both Water Chestnut and both kinds of Swallowwort, both extremely invasive plants that have taken over large areas of New York. Cap-Mo is currently looking into how we can take part in statewide testing and monitoring of these insects and their effectiveness, as well as using tried and true mechanical methods of invasive species prevention and removal. We encourage anyone in the region who is currently working on projects that deal with invasive species to contact us, we will help however possible.
In short, we have a great year ahead of us, and ideas for future projects were plentiful at the In-service. We are thinking about all avenues possible for us to help control the spread of invasive species in this coming year, both in the region and in the state at large. Today, the PRISM steering committee is meeting to work on the yearly workplan, which will help guide our efforts as we progress through the calendar. We may be at the crossroads here in the Capital-Mohawk region, but rest assured, we will make the right turn.
Our 2018 Workplan created on 12/7/17 is available for viewing here!