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Resolve to Prioritize Invasive Species Prevention: Twelve Things You Can Do

by | December 29, 2022

Looking for a New Year’s resolution? We’ve got you covered.

The new year has many of us motivated by the possibility of the year ahead. We’re making plans, setting new goals, and resolving to do this or that. As you’re resolution-ing, why not consider adopting one small action each month to help protect Alaska’s wildlife and promote healthy ecosystems?

Here are some ideas – a few small things you can do to make a big difference when it comes to invasive species:


Start at the beginning. Resolve to learn about one invasive species in your area each week this month. Feeling extra ambitious? Learn about one invasive species each month for the rest of the year. Knowing how to recognize invasive species is the first step in prevention.

A stack of invasive plant identification pocketguides.
Download a copy of the “Selected Invasive Plants of Alaska” pocketguide to start learning about the most common invasive plants in Alaska. Photo: Jen Chauvet/HSWCD


Resolve to become familiar with invasive species reporting tools and how to use them.


Gardening season is right around the corner. As you plan your spring planting projects, resolve to choose plants carefully to avoid planting a problem. Is that seemingly perfect tree invasive? There are loads of beautiful native and non-invasive alternatives, and many of them attract beneficial pollinators to our gardens.

An invasive tree with white flowers
Instead of planting an invasive European bird cherry (a.k.a. mayday or chokecherry) tree, find an alternative non-invasive tree. Crabapple, serviceberry (saskatoon), and lilacs are good options. Photo: Andrea_44, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr


Did you resolve to spend more time outside? Awesome! Add Play, Clean, Go to that resolution. Because the seeds of invasive plants can hitch a ride on our shoes, clothing, bikes, pets, ATVs, and other outdoor gear and equipment, it’s important to inspect and clean everything before hitting the trail. Stay on the trail and leash your pets – it helps keep any potential invasive plant infestations to the beaten track.


Invasive plants tend to emerge and green up earlier in the season than our native plants. Resolve to watch for invasive plants (your identification preparation back in January pays off!) that may pop up in your yard, on the trail, or around town. And don’t forget to report any sightings.


Resolve to celebrate Alaska Invasive Species Awareness Week by getting involved with a community weed pull or another event!

A man dragging a branch from an invasive tree through the forest
Lending a hand at a community weed pull can be a rewarding way to help with the problem of invasive species at a local level. Photo: Patrick Houlihan/HSWCD


Casting lines this summer? Don’t dump your bait on the ground! That’s right, non-native worms alter Alaska’s forests by changing the soil properties. Resolve to dispose of unused bait properly – in the trash.


Resolve to be a clean boater. Did you know that Elodea, a highly invasive aquatic plant, can sprout roots and shoots from tiny fingernail-sized fragments? Help stop the spread of Elodea and other aquatic invasive species by making a Clean, Drain, Dry routine part of your boating adventures.

A man using a hose to wash a kayak
Before moving between waterbodies: CLEAN off any plants, animals, and mud from boats, trailers, and gear. DRAIN all water from the boat, motor, coolers, etc. DRY everything for at least five days. At the bare minimum, wipe everything down with a towel. Photo: NPS


Slug season! Some slugs are native to Alaska, but many aren’t. In some parts of Alaska, non-native slugs like European black slugs and leopard slugs have become serious pests. Resolve to learn how to identify non-native slugs, and report them to the AK Pest Reporter.


When it comes time to clean up the garden for the season, take note of invasive plants you didn’t get around to dealing with this year. Avoid pulling them now (it’ll just spread the seeds around), and resolve to do it in the spring.

A yellowing invasive plant with lots of seeds
Invasive species tend to be prolific reproducers. Take hempnettle, for example. This incessant and common garden weed can produce up to 10,000 seeds. Per plant! Wait until spring to pull invasive plants that have gone to seed. Photo: Jen Chauvet/HSWCD


Whether you purchase or collect it yourself, resolve to keep firewood local. Moving firewood can transport pests and diseases. How local is local? Some recommend 10 miles or less, but the closer the better.


Have a homegrown holiday. Pests and diseases can hitch a ride on trees, garlands, potted plants, and more. Before bringing home fresh plant material for your seasonal décor, inspect it for insects or signs of damage. Resolve to purchase trees and other greenery grown close to home, gather some from your yard, or harvest it locally where permitted.

One a month! That’s all it takes to help keep Alaska free from the harmful impacts of invasive species. If you feel inspired to do more, follow us on Facebook and/or scroll to the top of this page and add your name to our mailing list to stay up to date on invasive species news, research, and events all year long.


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