|Weeds and other
non-native organisms threaten endangered animals and plants on the Channel
Islands and are costly to control. Learn how you can help prevent the
introduction and spread of non-native pests before they become a problem.
WHAT IS AN INVASIVE WEED?
The term “invasive weed” is generally used to describe non-native plants that
are unwanted and grow or spread aggressively. Invasive weeds take over important
wildlife habitat, devastating shelter and forage while reducing the diversity
and quality of native habitat. Weeds often do not hold and protect the soil the
way native plants do, so erosion increases and causes sediment in streams,
harming fish populations and water quality. Nearly half of the endangered plants
and animals in the United States have been negatively affected by invasive
species. Invasive species cause an estimated $116 billion in economic damage
each year in the United States.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
If you plan to visit the Channel Islands, you probably care a great deal about
protecting them from harm. Ironically, those who enjoy visiting the islands can
also be responsible for spreading non-native species. You can help prevent the
introduction and spread of non-native species, which is far more effective than
costly eradication programs!
Inspect Clothing, Gear and Containers for Weeds and Other “Hitchhikers”
Many weed seeds readily stick to clothing and camping gear. These seeds can
later fall off and germinate, establishing new weed colonies. Weeds and other
non-native organisms can hitch a ride in camping equipment, food containers and
baggage. Visitors should clean and inspect their footwear clothing and gear
(especially shoe treads and Velcro) for seeds and soil before boarding boats and
moving between campsites and islands. Socks and cuffs of pants should be given
particular attention. Sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and tents should be cleaned
and inspected for soil, invertebrates, and seeds before leaving the mainland.
Trails can be pathways for a lot more than just people. Weeds often spread along
trails and then to adjacent un-infested areas. You can help prevent this from
happening by always staying on designated trails, avoid weed-infested areas, and
by not picking or transporting plants when hiking on the islands.
Pack out all trash
Just because a bit of trash – apple cores, orange seeds, etc. – is organic,
doesn’t mean it can be left behind. Please be sure to pack out all trash. While
most domestic fruit and vegetable species are not invasive, some can germinate
and become pests.
If you visit the islands by private boat, you can be of particular help in
preventing the spread of non-native pests. In addition to the prevention methods
mentioned earlier, you can help protect endangered animals and plants with the
Campfires are prohibited on the islands, and common sense will tell you that
they are dangerous and potentially harmful in other ways. In addition to the
threat of wildfire, firewood brought from the mainland can harbor organisms that
can be very destructive. This includes the fungal-like disease, “Sudden Oak
Death” (SOD) that kills several species of native trees. You can help prevent
the spread of SOD and other harmful organisms by not transporting firewood under
Although most people know that landing of pets on the islands is prohibited,
they probably never imagine the danger domestic animals can pose to wildlife. In
1999, canine distemper killed almost all of the island foxes on the eastern
portion of Catalina Island. Island foxes are highly sensitive to disease, and
pets and their droppings can spread pathogens and cause other problems for
wildlife. Although no one wants to leave a pet at home when they visit the
islands, this is probably the best way of avoiding the temptation to land your
pet on the islands