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APPlying New Strategies to Nip Invasive Species in the Bud in New Jersey

NRCS Partner Employee Elizabeth Ciuzio Freiday, certified wildlife biologist, in a field of the vine kudzu, which is highly threatening to native communities. Photo by New Jersey Audubon Society, used with permission.

NRCS Partner Employee Elizabeth Ciuzio Freiday, certified wildlife biologist, in a field of the vine kudzu, which is highly threatening to native communities. Photo by New Jersey Audubon Society, used with permission.

The New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team is working to prevent the spread of emerging invasive species across New Jersey, and they’ve created a smartphone app to help.

Using part of a 2013 Conservation Innovation Grant from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the team has released an app that can help you identify and report sightings of new invasive species.

The new app, called New Jersey Invasives, can help farmers, forest landowners and outdoor enthusiasts quickly identify newly discovered and localized invasive species and get information on how to combat them before they become a larger and more costly problem.

Unchecked, invasive species can disrupt the balance of plants and animals in their native ecological system and can also adversely impact local economies. Dealing with invasive species early in the infestation stage is important because that is when you are most likely to achieve long-term control over the problem.

The app has photos of aquatic plants, herbs/forbs, grasses, trees, shrubs, vines, insects, wildlife and plant pathogens along with information on how to identify suspected invasive plants.

The lists can be sorted by either scientific or common names, which is beneficial to those unfamiliar with the Latin names. App users who discover an unwanted species can photograph the culprit with a smartphone camera, log into their Strike Team account and submit a report. That’s all there is to it!

Once the team receives the report, the botanists, entomologists and aquatic biologists who serve on the Strike Team’s Technical Advisory Committee will verify each sighting and add the information to the online database it uses to track the spread of problem species.

Anyone who has an iPhone or Android phone can connect to wireless internet and download the free app through iTunes or Google Play.

A second app, also part of the grant and due out this summer, will help track work underway to control invasive species that have been identified. The Strike Team will use that data to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies and protocols it recommends for treating invasive infestations.

NRCS administers the grant program to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies.

With CIG funding, the New Jersey Strike Team was able to benefit from the wide use of smartphones, using existing technology to help manage invasive plants that pose problems on private and public lands. Their project is a great illustration of what the grant program was created to do for conservation.

This screen shot of the Japanese stiltgrass photo shows how the app is displayed on an iPhone. Note the icons at bottom of page that guide the user through app functions with information on the species, how to control it and where other sightings of the species have been reported. The icon on the bottom right leads to the reporting function of the app.

This screen shot of the Japanese stiltgrass photo shows how the app is displayed on an iPhone. Note the icons at bottom of page that guide the user through app functions with information on the species, how to control it and where other sightings of the species have been reported. The icon on the bottom right leads to the reporting function of the app.

2 Responses to “APPlying New Strategies to Nip Invasive Species in the Bud in New Jersey”

  1. Joann Lacey Martinec says:

    Hi All,

    First of all thanks for all your good work.

    This project caught my attention because a similar app is needed in Illinois and most states. I hope you leverage the dollars spent on this grant and expand it to all states.

    I volunteer in natural areas in the Chicago area and have seen invasive species gradually creep into our area from the south. All states need a tool like this and I also think it is very important to engage and educate the public.

    Thanks again for all the great work,

    Jo

  2. JJ Goodwin says:

    Kudzu should not be a pest at all, it should be utilized. The young leaves can be consumed as a salad green, or juiced, dried they make a tea. New shoots can be eaten like asparagus. The blossoms can be used to make pickles or a jelly with an apple/peach flavour and the root is full of edible starch. You can fry older leaves or use them like grape leaves on keftedes. The roots can also be grated and ground into a flour to make a thickener, a cream or tofu like gel. In Japan where it is from, it is used to make soaps, lotions, rope, twine, baskets, wall paper, paper, fuel and compost. It can also be baled like hay with most grazing animals liking it, especially goats. Only the seeds are not edible.

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