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New citizen-based program assists local governments to sustainably manage public lands

MENOMONIE – Lower Chippewa Invasives Partnership, Inc. received funding from one of their partners, 3M, to train citizen scientists how to identify and control troublesome invasive species and to locate and protect rare native species. This program is called the Invasives Monitoring Program (IMP) was initiated in June 2020 with 20 citizen scientists and 12 mentors that individually help the citizen scientists to successfully map invasive species with the use of the smartphone APP, Great Lakes Early Detection Network/EDDMapS Midwest (GLEDN).

The 20 citizen scientists mapped invasive species in Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, and Pierce counties while driving, walking or biking their chosen area. The 172 mapped locations of invasives will be presented to local township, villages, cities and counties for consideration when maintaining public lands and rights-of-way. One volunteer stated, “While monitoring on my bike, many kids asked what is that lady doing so I then explained what I was monitoring for and why it was important.” With proper management of invasive species, their spread will slow, and public lands will become safer to explore and increase biodiversity.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, IMP shifted from in-person sessions to online training sessions through Zoom. The initial session focused on the program options, learning about plants, asking questions and preparing for monitoring that takes place whenever the citizen scientist chooses. The second session was focused on advanced topics, learning more about the target invasive and native species to map and monitor as well as a question-and-answer dialogue. The year wrapped up with a virtual Year-End Celebration where all the volunteers shared highlights, gave suggestions for improvements, a breakout session to discuss Dr. Douglas Tallamy’s book, Nature’s Best Hope, and then ended with an award ceremony.

IMP will continue to educate and expand to cover the entire West Central Wisconsin region. A volunteer highlight stated during the Year-End Celebration said, “After the initial training I found many native plants on my property that I thought were weeds and now I’m protecting them.” If you want to learn more about IMP view the online training sessions and other free educational materials at the LCIP Google Drive Folder.

Lower Chippewa Invasives Partnership, Inc. (lcinvasives.org or facebook.com/LCIP2011) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on invasive species education, outreach and control in West Central Wisconsin since 2011. LCIP strives to understand and solve community vegetation management needs while working to build strong partnerships that will sustain environmental challenges. “Spread the Word, Not the Plant.”

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