KEENE VALLEY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – At the start of the year, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) puts out a report, chronicling the stats for the last year in combatting invasive animal and plant species that pop up inside the Adirondack Park. On Wednesday, the 2021 report was released, and as always, there are plenty of things to know about the North Country’s 6-million-acre ecosystem.

“For well over two decades, the APIPP team has worked tirelessly to protect the Adirondacks from the negative impacts of invasive species,” said APOPP Program Manager Tammara Van Ryn. “Last year we brought new partnerships and scientific innovation to bear in the fight against terrestrial and aquatic invasive species. We are grateful to our expansive network of partners and to our community volunteers for working alongside us to safeguard our unique Adirondack lands and waters.”

The report, which can be found in full online through APIPP, has its share of highlights. One that’s always relevant is the number of new infestations by invasive species of insect and plant in the Adirondacks. In 2021, there were approximately 460 new ones counted.

Those infestations come from a variety of sources. In 2021, APIPP surveyed 38 New York State campgrounds; sections of over 30 units of forest preserve; parts or entireties of over 40, state and county roads; and 130 recreational access points. That last category comprises trailheads and boat launches; two places where travelers have a lot of close interaction with wildlife.

Invasive species travel into the Adirondacks in ways that vary by the animal or plant in question. For aquatic plants, the culprit can often be boats brought into water bodies without being cleaned at boat wash stations. Insects can infest animals and travel with them, or catch a ride in lumber taken from trees they consume and lay eggs inside.

As for specifics, the hemlock woolly adelgid is the star of the invasive show. First appearing in the Adirondack Park in 2017, 2021 was a bumper crop year for the aphid, which consumes and kills hemlock tree branches to reproduce. APIPP staff surveyed over 550 infestation sites for the adelgid.

Another insect making return appearances is the emerald ash borer, a beetle that infests ash trees – which make up about 7% of the park’s foliage – and kills them from within while laying eggs underneath tree bark. Two more infestations were found in 2021, and APIPP has established five sites where trees will be studied long-term, in order to find beetle-resistant trees to cultivate and breed for the future.

Both the beetle and the adelgid should sound familiar to visitors to the Lake George region. In summer 2020, both were found in the southern Adirondacks. The emerald ash borer was found at a Schroon River boat launch in the town of Chester. As for the hemlock woolly adelgid, its return to the Adirondacks was confirmed at Glen Island Campground on Lake George, just days later.

How to help

Combatting invasive species is the responsibility of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (although APIPP also plays a role). In Greene County, beetles were recently released to control hemlock woolly adelgid populations, and the Adirondacks have seen the same method used. Ash borer beetles have their own, safely controllable predators, too.

And that’s the good news; while new invasive emergences are never good, they can always be combatted. Another highlight of APIPP’s report was from 734 infestations they had a role in managing. The group says their own efforts have eliminated those species at around 40% of those sites. Other good news includes the elimination of invasive garlic mustard at six campgrounds.

APIPP has a full-time staff, but also seeks and trains volunteers. If you want to protect your part of the park from hemlock woolly adelgid, be it Lake George or beyond, there are plenty of ways to learn how to do it. An APIPP virtual workshop set for 10-11:30 a.m. on Feb. 16 will train volunteers to identify species, survey areas, and sign up for surveying between now and April 15, after which surveying stops in order to prevent accidental spread.

Once trained, volunteers have their pick of five different survey groups. They include:

  • Lake George region – Feb. 17, hosted by Lake George Land Conservancy
  • Coles Woods, Queensbury – Feb. 24, hosted by Capital Region PRISM
  • Moreau Lake State Park, Corinth – Feb. 24, hosted by Capital Region PRISM
  • Ausable River Watershed – March 2, hosted by Ausable River Association
  • Keene Valley – March 19, hosted by Adirondack Mountain Club