Elkins Mayor Duke Talbott declared May 15, 2012, the second annual "Invasive Species Awareness Day" to raise community members' awareness of the importance of stopping the spread of invasive species.
Mayor Talbott's proclamation stated, "Each person in Elkins can make a significant difference in battling invasive species, whether it is through learning how to identify and recognize invasive species in their backyard, volunteering at garlic mustard pulls, cleaning outdoor gear between trips, or knowing proper disposal methods for bait and unwanted aquarium pets or plants."
In celebration of "Invasive Species Awareness Day," the Monongahela National Forest, Appalachian Forest Heritage Area, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Partners Program, and the Potomac Highlands Cooperative Weed and Pest Management Area worked together to offer local students the opportunity to learn about invasives species by creating their own version of a "super alien."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Joe Hoover
Elkins Mayor Duke Talbott, right, and U.S. Forest Service ecologist Cindy Sandeno hold up a sign during a ceremony Tuesday in Elkins City Hall declaring May 15, 2012, the second annual ‘Invasive Species Awareness Day’. Members from the Monongahela National Forest, Appalachian Forest Heritage Area, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Partners Program, the Potomac Highlands Cooperative Weed and Pest Management Area, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the Elkins Sewing Center also attend the event.
United States Forest Service Forest Ecologist Cindy Sandeno said, "Non-native invasive species are those that evolved elsewhere and have been purposely or accidentally relocated to a new area. Yet, not all introduced species become invasive. Invasive species are the subset of introduced species that persist, flourish, and cause economic or environmental harm, or harm to human health."
The invasive species art project that local students participated in was part of a larger outreach program intended on educating children about the issues surrounding invasive species.
"AmeriCorps Volunteers from the Monongahela National Forest and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service met with students from the West Virginia Children's Home and Elkins High School Special Education Class to talk about the invasive species that threaten the natural heritage of West Virginia and the adaptations that make these species so successful," Sandeno said.
"After an educational lesson, the children began creating their own version of alien species. Some drew plants with beautiful colors and alluring shapes that attracted bees and other insects to their plant. Katlyne Coffman drew a "fire fish" that can walk, swim and even fly. The fire fish attracts birds with its rainbow flames and spots, yet when the birds touch it, they are burned and become a meal."
Sandeno added that, while these creations may sound like science fiction, many invasive species have amazing adaptations.
"For example, she said, "garlic mustard is a very fast growing plant that aggressively hogs light, moisture, nutrients, soil, and space. It also produces compounds that prevent the growth of other plants.
"Garlic Mustard occurs in the same habitat as some of our favorite wildflowers such as ramps, spring beauty and trilliums. Another alien species, the snakehead fish, can breathe air and survive for up to four days out of water.
"The fish can survive for longer periods of time on land when burrowed in the mud."
The banners created in the art project have been hung in downtown Elkins along Davis Avenue near City Hall.
Sadeno thanked the Elkins Sewing Center for helping with the project.
"The ladies at the sewing center helped pick out fabric, create the dimensions of the banners, helped sew them together, and donated the use of their sewing machines," Sandeno said.
She also thanked the Elkins Street Department for hanging up the banners.
For more information about invasive species, visit, www.phcwpma.org/.