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iMapInvasives Training at the Intervale Lowlands Preserve

On Thursday, May 28th, approximately thirty eager and curious participants gathered at the Intervale Lowlands Preserve in Lake Placid for an iMapInvasives training put on by The New York Natural Heritage Program and the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP). After listening to presentations on both invasive species identification and iMap basics, attendees took to the field to put their newfound skills to the test.  Using the new iMap app on their smart phones and tablets, those trained mapped existing invasive species infestations located on the preserve into the statewide invasive species database and even discovered a new infestation of balsam woolly adelgid which had not previously been known to be on the property.

Established in New York in 2010, iMapInvasives is a web-based mapping tool that is used to share data about invasive species observations across the state. The Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based program is both easy to use and free to the public, and as a result a large portion of the program’s data comes from citizen-scientist volunteers. After requesting a login, users can upload a picture and specific location information about where they observe an invasive species infestation. While all observations are immediately visible on the program’s website, they are classified as either “uncomfirmed” or “confirmed” and can only attain “confirmed” status after being verified by an invasive species expert. Now, with the recent launching of the mobile app, users can upload information about invasive species observations into iMapInvasives right from their smart phone or tablet. The mobile app makes it simple to share specific invasive species location information by using a smart phone’s internal GPS.

Several tablets were provided by APIPP so that participants could practice mapping invasives in the field.

Several tablets were provided by APIPP so that participants could practice mapping invasives in the field.

The training’s morning session, led by APIPP’s own Brendan Quirion and Zack Simek, focused on invasive species identification. Invasive plant and insect samples were passed around to exhibit the unique identification traits of each species. Several participants had observed some of the species highlighted on their own properties and were eager to learn about how they could map and manage them. Afterwards, Jennifer Dean of the New York Natural Heritage Program and iMapInvasives gave an introductory course on basic data entry using iMap.

Jennifer Dean of the New York Natural Heritage Program points out native cow parsnip, which is often mistaken for the invasive giant hogweed.

Jennifer Dean of the New York Natural Heritage Program and iMap points out native cow parsnip, which is often mistaken for the invasive giant hogweed.

The 160 acre Intervale Lowlands Preserve served as an excellent setting for the training. In the afternoon, owner Larry Master led a tour of the preserve which is situated along the west branch of the AuSable River in Lake Placid. Those trained were asked to keep their eyes peeled for invasive species during the tour and report any new infestations that they found using iMap. After observing and reporting handfuls of small Canada thistle and bush honeysuckle infestations, participants split off for an invasive species scavenger hunt to explore the property and map additional invasive species observations. During the scavenger hunt, APIPP’s coordinator Brendan Quirion spotted a previously unknown infestation of balsam woolly adelgid along the river. With the iMap mobile app, participants were able to immediately submit the new observation into the statewide database.

Participants examine a tree infested with balsam woolly adelgid.

Participants examine a tree infested with balsam woolly adelgid.

By completing the training, the group of 30 joined a class of more than 2,000 iMap users trained since 2010 that have submitted nearly 100,000 invasive species observations into the New York iMapInvasives database. The iMapInvasives team holds trainings every spring in each of the Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM)’s in New York State and offers additional trainings to interested groups as needed. Self-training videos can also be found on their website. For this and more information on how you can become an iMapInvasives citizen-scientist volunteer, check out nyimapinvasives.org/Training.

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