1. First it’s important to know what plants and animals have lived together over hundreds of years in the Catskill Mountains. These native species depend on each other in order to thrive. Understanding our natural surroundings makes it easier to identify what things do not belong. To begin getting familiar with Catskill native plants, please see this native plant guide provided by the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program.
2. In the Catskills we have several plant species like Oriental bittersweet or Japanese barberry that may seem native, because they cover such a large area, but they are actually non-native, invasive plants. While it is important to know these established invasive plants, it is actually more critical to learn about early detection species or non-native plants that may only be found in limited quantities in the Catskills. The reason being that it is much easier to control a small population versus an extensive, established population. This pdf includes a few slides of early detection plants that have demonstrated negative impacts elsewhere in New York, but have not yet taken a hold in the Catskills. The Nature Conservancy has also compiled a list of invasive species in or near the Catskill region and developed a useful guide to preventing the spread of invasive insects and disseases.
3. Once you’ve become familiar with early detection species and if you find one of these plants on your own property, please make a voucher specimen. For instructions on how to make a voucher specimen, please refer to this document link.
4. You could also just talk to neighbors if you notice that they are planting non-native, invasive plants or if they are moving soil that previously had an invasive plant growing in it. Japanese knotweed (seen to right), which has colonized miles of streambank throughout the Catskills, was originally brought to the United States for its aesthetic qualities. Now it often creates new colonies when soil with small plant fragments is moved as part of bridge maintenance or gardening projects.
5. Create a neighborhood team to help each other control invasive species in your area. In the hamlet of Oliverea, the Foxfire 4-H club, wrote to neighbors living along the McKenley Hollow creek which flows in the Esopus Creek. After receiving permission from all of the landowners, the children mapped Japanese knotweed locations and worked together to stomp it out and cover it. This group of enthusiastic 6-12 year olds may successfully eliminate Japanese knotweed from their neighborhood.
6. Lastly, you could join the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP). This group consists of many agencies and organizations working in throughout the Catskills, but is also welcome to concerned citizens. The link within this text will lead you to a sign-on letter and more information about CRISP.