Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Voluntary outdoor recreation guidelines aim at preventing spread of invasive species

Online survey seeks public views on draft best management practices

MADISON – People who enjoy hiking, camping, biking, trail riding or hunting or who own or manage land for recreational use can learn more about and comment on draft recommendations for how people can help prevent the spread of invasive species while engaging in outdoor recreation in Wisconsin.

“Invasive species may present the greatest threat to the long-term health and sustainability of Wisconsin’s forests.” That is a consensus that was reached at the 2004 Governor’s Conference on Forestry, says Bernie Williams, an invasive species coordinator with the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry.

Williams says participants at the conference agreed on the need for voluntary best management practices (BMP) to guard against the spread of invasives species and the Wisconsin Council on Forestry has been working on them.

The council previously developed BMPs for other forestry activities, and now a recreation advisory committee spent two years gathering input from more than 70 recreation organizations, environmental groups, and agencies to develop comprehensive BMPs to help prevent the introduction and/or further spread of invasive plants, insects, and diseases on private and public lands while recreating outdoors.

“If you enjoy and value Wisconsin’s outdoors, you should be interested in these practices,” says Kimberly Currie, a manager with the DNR Bureau of Park and Recreation who helped guide the process. “They can help us all hold the line against the introduction and further spread of invasives in Wisconsin.”

The BMPs provide general as well as activity-specific guidelines and focus on recommendations affecting animal-based activities, such as hunting and trapping, as well as bicycling and camping, and motorized and pedestrian-based activities. The BMPs include suggestions such as: making sure clothing, shoes, and equipment are free of invasive residue; avoiding areas that appear to be infested with invasive species; encouraging individuals to report invasive species to the appropriate land manager/property owner; including invasive species prevention into event planning; and taking care to stay on trails. The BMPs also encourage individuals to help educate others about invasive species and their environmental, economic, and recreational impacts.

The groups involved with developing the guidance are now seeking public input on the document through an online survey . The survey includes specific and open-ended questions about the BMPs.

“The stakeholders involved in drafting these BMPs have come up with common-sense recommendations that will benefit everyone in the state, including people who enjoy the wealth of public recreation land in Wisconsin, as well as private property owners who open up their land to various organizations,” says Luana Schneider, state trails coordinator for the Wisconsin Four-Wheel Drive Association and a participant in the discussions. “The BMPs raise awareness about invasives and educate folks on actions we can all take without placing blame. I think these are worth supporting. And I encourage everyone to participate in the survey and provide their input on the BMPs.”

Additional information about the voluntary BMPs for invasive species can be found on the Wisconsin Council on Forestry Web site at (exit DNR). Anyone not having access to a computer can send their comments on the BMPs to Ms. Bernie Williams, Invasive Species BMP Coordinator, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources-FR/4, P.O. Box 7921, Madison WI 53707-7921. The deadline for both online and written comments is Friday March 20.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Bernie Williams, 608.266-0624.

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