Volunteer Recruitment for Invasive Species Control
The Charlotte Conservation Commission in partnership with Lewis Creek Association have conducted an ambitious volunteer based invasive plant control project. The project site is the Thorp/Kimball 50 acre wetland complex, adjacent to Town Farm Bay of Lake Champlain. European frogbit, a floating aquatic plant was first discovered in the wetland in 2007. At the time, it was estimated to have covered 50% of the open water. With the support of DEC and funding from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, a program was initiated in 2008 that:
-further defined the resource and conservation values at risk
-characterized the exact nature of infestation and developed control plan
-purchased capital equipment and supplies (canoes, paddles, PFDs, buckets, rakes)
- payed for summer work crews
It was incredibly helpful to have the funds to get the project rolling, but we knew the infestation would outlive the dollars, so we had to give up the paid crews and rely solely on volunteers. Recruiting, and managing volunteers to achieve 300+ work hours per season was a huge demand upon the organizers. In 2013, we tried a new system. Instead of recruiting individual volunteers, we recruited folks, many affiliated with organizations, to take responsibility for an entire week of harvesting. Instead of recruiting 120-150 volunteers each season, we now recruit 6-8 coordinators. Granted, we are asking a much more of the coordinators, and we try to give them tools and resources that will ensure their success.
Take away from this story'consider alternate and creative structures for volunteer recruitment
BTW, the frogbit control story is interesting, we have learned a lot. The wetland is much better for it. By reducing our volunteer recruiting/organizing responsibilities, we were able to focus on other aspects of the project (see below)
Outreach, partnerships, wetland
- Frogbit percent cover reduced from 50 to 5%, what we believe to be an ecologically sustainable level
- wetland condition is now 'healthy', based on assessments by wetland ecologists, DEC wetland division, and State aquatic invasive program manager
-we have identified other invasive plant populations. Some have been caught early and eradicated, others will be addressed in upcoming season
- We believe we have furthered the science and understanding of behavior of European Frogbit in these ecosystems
- We have increased AWARENESS, UNDERSTANDING, AND APPRECIATION FOR THE WETLAND, resulting in a much more supportive environment for this work.