Get Outta Here Invasives!

NWF   |   May 9, 2006

Having just relocated to Virginia from Juneau, Alaska, I have to admit that I know next to nothing about the invasive species present here. In Alaska, the worry is that Atlantic salmon, mollusks from New Zealand, or crabs from China will be introduced to rivers and streams. Seafood is a big deal in the ‘Last Frontier.’ I didn’t realize garlic mustard was just as threatening in Virginia until one of NWF’s naturalists pointed it out. Garlic mustard is a weed from Europe that messes up the relationship between trees and fungi, which can be devastating to forests.

Invasives are nothing new. NWF Campus Ecology Fellows have been tackling this problem for years. In 2003, Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin decided to take on invasive plants and succeeded in getting half of the campus to incorporate native plant species in landscape designs. The State University of New York dealt with invasives in 2004 by educating local kindergarten through high school students. NWF Fellow Richard Strain got students to grow local pine seedlings, which were transferred onto the SUNY campus.

Students have the potential to make enormous changes on their campuses. Northland College and the SUNY campus can be examples for other students trying to make a positive environmental change locally. To learn about other National Wildlife Federation fellows that have completed habitat restoration projects and taken on invasive species, check out our website!