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PlayCleanGo: Stop invasive species in your tracks

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Morris, 56267

Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has launched an educational campaign to help prevent the introduction and spread of terrestrial invasive species.

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The goal of the "PlayCleanGo: Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks" campaign is to enhance public awareness of the issue, build personal responsibility in preventing the spread of invasives and disrupt the link between outdoor recreation and the potential spread of terrestrial invasive species.

"Whether you're a camper, trail user, homeowner or someone working in the field, it is to your advantage that our forests and trails are healthy and free from invasives, said Susan Burks, DNR Forestry invasive species program coordinator. "You can find information on how to stop invasive species in your tracks at the PlayCleanGo website (www.playcleango.org)."

According to a DNR 2008 survey, many of today's recreationists are aware of aquatic invasive species and their negative impact on our water resources, while relatively few people know about the equally devastating impact terrestrials invasive species can have on our forests, wetlands and prairie resources.

Invasive terrestrials are currently killing trees, displacing native plants and animal species, altering soil and water chemistry and changing fire and other environmental disturbance patterns. In the process, invasive terrestrials can also impact human health by causing blisters and burns, make recreation difficult and destroy natural landscapes.

The DNR invites the public and interested organizations to help spread the "Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks" message. The DNR will provide articles and media and graphic support to present clear prevention messaging in a comprehensive package. For more information, contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us, 888-646-6367 or 651-296-6157.

"We can protect Minnesota by becoming informed, attentive and accountable for our potential role in the spread of invasive species," said Burks.

The DNR partnered with Explore Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Transportation and the University of Minnesota Extension to develop the campaign with the help of U.S. Forest Service grant funds.

What are invasive species?

Invasive species are plants, animals and micro-organisms that are not native to a particular area. They are species that are capable of causing severe damage in areas outside their normal range. Invasive species can harm the economy, the environment and human health once they become established.

How do invasive species spread?

Every species has one to several ways to expand their range such as being blown by the wind, carried by animals or moved in soil or water. In their home territory, the spread of invasive species is rarely a problem because the native plants and animals co-exist more or less peaceably.

Long distance spread of a species to a new location, which is almost always human assisted, can be problematic because the resident plants and animals cannot cope with their new neighbor. Natural enemies are missing and host species often lack the natural defenses to survive an attack by the introduced species.

How can recreation spread invasive species?

Invasive species have many pathways of spread and can easily be moved by human activities. For instance, weed seeds move in soil, so they can be transported by muddy boots or vehicles. Other weed seeds have hooks that help them catch a ride on shoes, socks, clothing and pets. Being aware of the various pathways of spread can help reduce the risk of accidentally moving harmful invasive species.

Why care about terrestrial invasive species?

Costs associated with surveying for invasive species, forest management once an infestation has occurred and losses to industry, recreation and forest and water quality are in the billions of dollars each year. Preventing the spread of invasive species has been shown to be far more cost effective than managing pests after they become permanently established in a new location. By getting involved now, Minnesotans can protect the state's natural areas for the enjoyment of future generations.

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