Photo courtesy of Hilary Smith
Cleaning your boat, including its engine, after every use can help prevent the spread of invasive species such as Eurasian watermilfoil.
Photo courtesy of Hilary Smith
Emerald ashborers can be transported through the movement of firewood.
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You have the gear. You have the perfect weather. But do you have a hitchhiker, too? The “nature” of travel and outdoor recreation has changed. Human activities aid the spread of invasive species when plants and pests hitchhike with us to new areas.

Seeds and plant fragments can cling to our boats, boots or bikes, and critters can be contained within bait buckets or firewood. Citizens are now taking measures to prevent the spread of invasive species by making inspection and cleaning part of the sport.

Invasive species are plants, animals and other organisms that cause environmental and economic harm. Introduced to areas outside of their native range, invasive species have no natural predators to keep their populations in check.

They spread uncontrollably and can cause irreversible damage. Invading plants clog waterways. Non-native forest pests can kill trees. Invasive fish can destroy fisheries.

Help keep woods and waters free of invasive species.

Follow these simple steps to save the Adirondacks from harm:

Protect rivers and streams

Paddlers and anglers: Inspect, clean, and dry all waders, gear and equipment before moving between waterways. Didymo, or “rock snot,” is a microscopic algae that is easily spread on the bottoms of felt-soled waders or other damp items that come into contact with water.

Keep forests safe

Hikers and campers: Use firewood that is local to the area you are visiting. Forest pests, like emerald ash borer and Asian longhorn beetle, hitch rides in firewood and cause the loss of millions of trees.

Guard lakes and ponds

Boaters and anglers: Inspect, clean and dry all gear and equipment, motorboats and trailers, canoes and kayaks before moving between waterways. Fragments from invasive plants like Eurasian watermilfoil and seeds from water chestnut are easily spread on boat props and trailer carpets. Invasive invertebrates like spiny waterflea can be transported on fishing tackle and bait buckets.

Defend natural areas

Gardeners and homeowners: Landscape with only non-invasive plants. Many plants stay put, but some like Oriental bittersweet, yellow iris and purple loosestrife escape gardens and invade neighboring woods, wetlands and waters.

Please take these precautions to help protect the fisheries and forests of the Adirondacks.

Learn more ways to prevent the spread of invasive species online at,, and

You CAN make a difference. If not you, then who?

Hilary Smith is the director of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, a partnership program housed at the offices of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy in Keene Valley.