Delivering citizen science data to our local road crews
Over the past 2 years, SEWISC developed and delivered educational presentations designed to share locally mapped invasive plant species information and management training to government officials and roadside managers throughout Washington, Sheboygan, Ozaukee, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties. This is the location data that you (our SEWISC volunteer teams) collected over three seasons! Our staff scheduled individual meetings with the local officials of 118 cities, towns and villages located in those coastal counties. Of the 118 local governments, 98 agreed to meet in-person with SEWISC staff, and 20 meetings were held via telephone with information packets delivered both in-person and through electronic means. The enthusiasm with which highway managers received this information and assistance was very encouraging, and demonstrated that our local governments understand that invasives on the roadsides can no longer be ignored.
The main purpose of the meetings was to deliver the locations of invasive plant populations surveyed by local resident volunteers in 2011, 2012 and 2013 in both paper and electronic Geographic Information System (GIS) formats, and to provide each local government with a customized roadside management plan. Meeting topics also included current statewide NR-40 rules and Best Management Practices, the statewide noxious weed law, local weed ordinances, and the roles of weed commissioners.
Electronic and telephone notice of the correct time to mow was delivered to those governments and these notices will also be sent again each year. Our goal is to empower local governments and residents to manage invasive plant species in their communities by giving them the information they need to effectively time their management regimes, strengthen their local ordinances, educate their neighbors and leverage the efforts of their local weed commissioners and other technical resources.
This project increased communication and shared resources regarding invasive species identification and management in the southeastern Wisconsin coastal area. City, town and village staff responsible for roadway management received training, maps and written control plans to aid in preventing the spread of those species along our roadways and into our backyards, parks, natural areas and farmland. SEWISC and our volunteers will continue to provide in-person advice and consultation to roadway crews, helping them to identify invasive plants and time management efforts effectively.
This outreach program would not have been possible without the assistance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust and the GIS and Highway staff members of the six counties. Funding for the program was provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and we are currently searching for additional funding to complete this vital work in Waukesha and Walworth Counties.