State: Invasive species pose threats to Nevada natives
Nevada officials are educating communities about the threats posed by invasive plants, animals and microorganisms in Nevada during National Invasive Species Awareness Week through Monday.
The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources reports invasive species pose a threat statewide and can have devastating effects on ecosystems, threaten agricultural food production, and harm public health without proper measures to keep them under control. Whether it be an invasive insect pest, a non-native invasive grass like cheatgrass, or aquatic invasives such as those impacting Lake Tahoe, these species can increase the threat of wildfire, degrade water quality, and undermine recreational opportunities within the ecosystem. For example, left unchecked, invasive weeds can clog waterways, kill native trees, shade out crops and native plants, and fuel wildland fires. In Nevada, some of the most significant invasive species include cheatgrass, whitetop, Asian clams, zebra quagga mussels, tamarisk, and knapweed. Several divisions within the agency, including State Parks, Forestry, State Lands (including the Nevada Tahoe Resource Team), the Natural Heritage Program, the Sagebrush Ecosystem Program and the Conservation District Program, work with other agencies to manage invasive species for the protection of Nevada’s natural resources and habitats.
“The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is dedicated to ensuring Nevada residents can live, work, play, and swim in healthy, thriving greenspaces and recreational waters,” said Bradley Crowell, director of NDCNR. “As part of this commitment, our divisions have fostered dynamic partnerships and model processes that aid in preserving ecosystems, mitigating invasive species, and enhancing the natural beauty and vibrancy of communities throughout the state.”
A few examples of invasive species management projects performed by NDCNR divisions and partnering agencies include:
The Nevada Division of State Parks and the Nevada Division of Forestry collaborate on a variety of vegetative management projects, such as bringing in livestock to graze in weeded areas, which is known as the most environmentally-friendly abatement method. The divisions also partner with the Nevada Department of Corrections, as inmates build fencing to contain grazing livestock.
The Nevada Division of Forestry manages forest and rangeland and watershed health, fuel reduction, and protection and preservation of flora (including state listed endangered plant species). The Nevada Division of Forestry also has two nurseries and a seedbank facility for collection and propagation of species to compete with aggressive and “wildfire-friendly” invasive species, and works with communities and other agencies to apply treatments at a landscape scale and across jurisdictional boundaries.
The Nevada Sagebrush Ecosystem Program helps coordinate projects to improve Sage-grouse habitat, including the control of invasive species such as cheatgrass.
The Nevada Division of State Parks works with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to fund boat inspectors at main boat docks in Nevada, including Sand Harbor and Cave Rock, to help prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species in Lake Tahoe.
Nevada’s 28 conservation districts work in conjunction with local, state, and federal agencies to address invasive and noxious species, based on each of the unique ecosystems within the state. Nevada’s conservation districts also bring together available technical, financial, and educational resources, and coordinate these resources to meet the needs of landowners and land users.
The Nevada Natural Heritage Program has participated in an Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program, an initiative through the Nevada Department of Wildlife, designed to prevent the spread/introduction of aquatic invasive species in Nevada’s waterways.
The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources or other invasive species initiatives, visit dcnr.nv.gov/.