Early Detection and Rapid Response
The most cost-effective way to manage invasive species
We have fewer established invasives compared to the lower 48 states and an opportunity to implement EDRR to keep Alaska wild and free.
We need your help
Invasive species threaten fish and wildlife habitat, our local economies, and our livelihoods. Please learn to identify and report new infestations, so that we can eradicate infestations immediately.
A $120 billion problem
Every year, invasive species control cost the United States approximately $120 billion to mitigate damages. They reduce property values, impede outdoor recreation, and can directly harm humans.
EDRR can eradicate a new invasive species before it spreads out of control
Alaska Weeds ID
Download a mobile app for iPhone or Android to help with identification
Prevention Begins at Home
Invasive species can spread from your garden or yard to your entire neighborhood
Choose native trees and flowers, or choose safe alternative ornamentals (See our brochure)
Keep an eye out for invaders like orange hawkweed, creeping thistle, and bird vetch
Certified weed-free hay, straw, gravel, and topsoil will protect your land from invasive species
Beware of Aquatic Hitchhikers
Elodea and zebra mussels hitch rides on boats and floatplanes
Clean As You Go
When you leave a body of water, be sure to inspect your boat, plane, or gear. Clear off visible plants, animals, and mud.
Pull the plug
Drain your motor, bilge, livewell, and other water containers before leaving the water.
Keep It Dry
Make sure your fishing gear, boots, and waders are dry before you take them back to the water.
Hold on to your bait
Non-native worms can damage Alaskan forests. Take your bait to the trash.
Stop Invasives In Your Tracks
Protect the backcountry you love by reporting invasive plants and animals in the wild
Hikers and cyclists get a ground-level view of Alaska’s pristine public lands while ATV, snowmachine, and horseback riders can go deep into the countryside.
Remember to stay on established trails and keep an eye out for invasive plants—and make sure your equipment is clear of seeds, roots, and vegetation.
Recently disturbed landscapes like the 2019 Swan Lake Fire are vulnerable to new invaders like orange hawkweed and reed canarygrass. These kinds of plants dominate a burn area by outcompeting native plants and threatening moose and bear habitat.
Workers Spot Invasives First
Field crews encounter invasive plants in roads, trails, and utility corridors
Alaska Weeds ID
This smartphone app is your portable field guide to invasive species. You can also use the app to pinpoint your location and report new incursions.
Clean Your Equipment
The Alaska Weeds ID mobile app is your portable field guide to invasive species. You can also use the app to pinpoint your location and report new incursions.
Look For the Logo
Certified weed-free gravel, straw, and native seed will help control invasive spread on you work sites. Alaska-sourced materials are the next best thing.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an invasive species?
An invasive species is a non-native organism (including plants, animals, insects, fungus and diseases) that is introduced into a region outside of their native range, and cause harm to humans, the environment and/or the economy. They may negatively impact your ability to fish, hunt, hike, boat, and recreate across Alaska.
How do invasive species get here?
Invasive species are introduced and spread to new regions by human activities. They hitch rides on boots, vehicles, ATVs, equipment, boats, float planes, ship ballast water, freighters, wood and food products. Humans may release invasive species through agricultural crops, planting ornamentals, or dumping aquariums and fishing bait into the environment.
Why are invasive species a problem?
Invasive species compete with native organisms, reduce biodiversity, threaten the habitat of Alaska’s plants, fish and wildlife, and are capable of causing species extinctions while negatively impacting local livelihoods and economies. Invasive species reduce ecological biodiversity, impede recreational activities, reduce property values, and cause huge disruptions to coastal, terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. It is estimated invasive species cost the United States up to $120 billion per year in management and economic loss.
Are all non-native species a problem?
No, most non-native species introduced in Alaska can not compete with native organisms, nor survive our harsh environment. Non-native plants and animals are considered invasive when they aggressively out-compete native species and establish dense populations because the ecosystem lacks a mechanism to keep them in check (i.e. predators, parasites, disease, and competitors). Some invasive species eat or kill native species, some invasive plants release toxins that prevent other plants from growing, and others disrupt water flow across landscapes. Some non-native species may wreck-havoc in southeast Alaska, but not be able to survive the frigid temperatures of the arctic. A non-native plant invasiveness ranking tool has been created for plants introduced to Alaska. Learn more here (Invasiveness ranking )
How can I learn to identify invasive species?
Get to know the native plants and animals of Alaska. When you see something new that you don’t recognize, pick up a field guide, ask an expert and report it here: (link to reporting section of website). Sign up for the KP-CISMA newsletter and follow us on facebook to learn about trending invasive species in Alaska and the most aggressive invaders to watch out for in the future.
What can I do to keep Alaska wild & free from invasive species?
Help spread the word! Clean, drain ballast water, and dry off all watercraft and floatplanes before entering and leaving freshwater and marine areas. Inspect equipment, vehicles, ATVs, bikes and boots for dirt, root fragments, and hitchhikers. Don’t dump aquariums or bait into Alaska’s habitat. Don’t plant an ornamental (link to alternative ornamentals poster) or agricultural nightmare. Use local firewood only. Learn to identify the most common invasive species that exist in Alaska or in the lower 48. We still have an opportunity to keep harmful invasive species out of our state. Learn more about prevention here, Ask an expert here.
What is EDRR? (Early Detection/Rapid Response)
After prevention activities, early detection and rapid response is considered the next highest priority to mitigate the introduction and spread of invasive weeds, and is by far the most cost effective approach. The goal for early detection and rapid response is to find incipient populations of invasive plants and eradicate them before they begin to spread. This approach, as defined by the National Invasive Species Council (2003), is the most effective means for eradicating invasive species and is intended to be the keystone of invasive plant management within the KP-CISMA.
What is an IPM?
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based approach to managing pests and invasive species long-term with minimal impact to human health, the environment and non-target plants and animals. Through a combination of techniques, including manual, mechanical, chemical, cultural, and biological control, IPM strategies focus on the biology of pests, site characteristics, and management objectives. Currently there is no biological control of invasive species practiced in the state of Alaska. Learn more about Alaska’s IPM Program from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service: https://www.uaf.edu/ces/invasives/ipm/ and from the Kenai Peninsula CISMA Strategic Plan (insert link to document).
Are pesticides and herbicides safe to use?
Pesticides are chemicals used to treat pest infestations. Herbicides are those chemicals specifically engineered to target plants. Pesticides have unique risks that landowners and managers must be aware of in order to make informed decisions about safe and proper use, including both short-term and long-term toxicity that varies greatly depending on the chemical product. Pesticides should only be used when other methods of control, such as manual and mechanical removal, are not sufficient.
Learn about safe pesticide use from UAF Cooperative Extension Service: https://www.uaf.edu/ces/agriculture/psep/
- Wear protective clothing and safety devices as recommended on the label. Bathe or shower after each use.
- Read the pesticide label—even if you’ve used the pesticide before. Follow closely the instructions on the label (and any other directions you have).
- Be cautious when you apply pesticides. Know your legal responsibility as a pesticide applicator. You may be liable for injury or damage resulting from pesticide use.
The KP-CISMA recommends herbicides/pesticides as a tool for rapid response of the most harmful populations of invasive species that can still be eradicated from the Kenai Peninsula (i.e. Bird vetch, Elodea and Northern Pike). Partners carefully choose the right pesticide application technique and prescription for these aggressive invaders, and minimize non-target impacts as much as possible. Herbicides are not appropriate for long-term control, and plants will eventually develop resistance to herbicides. Not all herbicides are appropriate for all weeds, nor are they appropriate for all sites (i.e. lawns, wooded areas, near streams, etc.). Make sure to carefully read the entire herbicide label to determine the right chemical for the location and the targeted invasive species. Follow all label instructions – it’s the law!