By August 11, 2015 0 Comments Read More →

Meet Stephen Slonosky, Adirondack Invasive Species Campground Manager

Each year, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) partner together to hire, train, and supervise an Adirondack invasive species campground manager for the summer season. This year’s campground manager is Stephen Slonosky, a senior at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse. As a forest health major, Stephen has had experience with invasive species both in and outside of the classroom and has been visiting the Adirondack region since he was a child.

Stephen was first introduced to the concept of invasive species while attending summer camp during his youth. Seeing the camp become surrounded by substantial infestations of purple loosestrife and water chestnut, Stephen couldn’t help but feel the need to help prevent other natural areas from reaching a similar fate. Later as a staff member at that same camp, he took things into his own hands by developing a series of  lessons educating young campers on what they could do to prevent the spread of invasive species. Today, he is reminded of that experience when talking to campground staff and visitors at the various Adirondack campgrounds that he manages for invasive plants.

Stephen Slonosky is this year's invasive species campground manager.

Stephen Slonosky is this year’s invasive species campground manager.

Stephen’s responsibilities include both early detection and management of invasive plant infestations at NYSDEC campgrounds and trailheads of the Adirondack Park. The campgrounds, trailheads, and other state owned recreational areas of the park are often where invasive plant infestations first show up because people unintentionally transport seeds on their clothing and gear. By catching infestations early, Stephen is able to prevent them from expanding into the nearby forest preserve. This summer he will be patrolling dozens of DEC campgrounds surveying for invasive species. Since the position is a reoccurring summer internship opportunity, previous campground managers have created maps of infestation observations that Stephen refers to and updates. Most importantly, Stephen takes careful note of each campsite and public area and searches them for any previously undetected or new infestations of invasive plants. Invasive plants often found in campgrounds range from herbaceous plants such as garlic mustard to woody shrubs such as Japanese barberry. Each invasive has a specific management technique and must be addressed accordingly. Stephen has found the most common invasive he encounters to be bush honeysuckle. However, he focuses the majority of his efforts on higher priority species such as yellow iris and purple loosestrife. Depending on the size and species of plant, he either bags up excavated plants and leaves them out in the sun for a few weeks to degrade before safe disposal or hangs them securely in tree branches to dry and decompose. At the end of the day, he marks down each species he saw, the size and location of the infestations, and the management technique performed. This information is gathered by APIPP and is used to compare infestation sizes from year to year, identify trends over time, and strategize for the coming season’s management.

Stephen assists in collecting Galerucella beetles, a biological control used to suppress purple loosestrife infestations.

Stephen assists in collecting Galerucella beetles, a biological control used to suppress purple loosestrife infestations.

Though he resides in Syracuse most of the year, Stephen enjoys visiting the Adirondacks whenever he gets the chance, both with his school’s outing club and on his own. Stephen hopes to pursue graduate school after graduating from ESF next spring and is grateful for the opportunity to help better protect the Adirondack region from invasive species this summer. Interested in helping Stephen manage a campground for invasive species this summer? Please contact APIPP.




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