Help Stop the Spread of Invasive Species

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Did you know that invasive species cost the United States approximately $21 billion each year? Invasive species are organisms that are introduced to areas where they don’t occur naturally, and they cause harm to the environment, the economy, human, animal, and plant health in these new areas. Luckily, our friends at the National Invasive Species Council have just a few simple steps you can take to prevent the spread of invasive species when you recreate outdoors!

Tips for recreating responsibly on your public lands and waters

Clean, Drain, Dry – in every water body, every time

Two women pose for a photo in a red kayak on a lake

Acadia National Park (Karen Miller, Share the Experience)

Aquatic invasive species can deplete fisheries, harm boat motors, and diminish the quality of the water bodies we recreate in. We can accidentally introduce them to lakes, rivers, streams with our boats and gear.

You can stop the spread of aquatic invasive species. Clean, drain, and dry boats and any other recreational equipment that contacts water. Dispose of unwanted bait, worms, fish parts, or other organisms into the trash and not into the environment.

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Don't Move Firewood – protect the trees you love from tree-killing bugs

A closeup of a campfire burning near a lake

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (Samantha Jones, Share the Experience)

Many invasive species kill individual trees and harm the forests that provide us with shade, clean air, habitat for wildlife, and enjoyment. These invasive species often live in firewood and are accidentally moved to new locations by campers. This can harm the forest you’re camping in.

To prevent introducing forest-killing invasive species, buy or collect firewood that is close to your campsite. You can safely transport certified heat-treated firewood over longer distances. Remember to always follow local guidelines for collecting and burning wood.

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There's more, but the remedy is simple – just clean your stuff!

A person cleaning their boots with a brush

National Park Service

Invasive species aren’t limited to our watercraft, fishing gear, or firewood – they can also attach to gear like boots or vehicles.

The principles of prevention are similar and simple. Remove plants, seeds, animals, and mud from boots, gear, pets, and vehicles. Clean your gear before entering and leaving the recreation site. Stay on designated roads and trails. Always use weed-free hay and feed for your animals.

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Want to be more involved? You can!

Closeup of a black spotted lantern fly

US Department of Agriculture

There are many ways that you can be more involved in protecting natural areas from invasive species. A big one is to submit observations of invasive species using reporting apps like EDDMapS and Wild Spotter or websites like the Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. These observations can allow biologists to act early and potentially remove the invasive species before they become a problem.

For information about other opportunities, visit:

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