The Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges has been awarded a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. This funding, part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, will be used to control the spread of the invasive plant giant hogweed across 12 counties in the Great Lakes Basin. This effort builds upon a similar program from 2017-2022 and addresses the growing concern about giant hogweed, a plant that poses a significant threat to human health and local ecosystems.
Giant hogweed, known for its noxious sap that can cause severe burns and photosensitivity upon contact with human skin, grows over 10 feet tall and disrupts native habitats. It also contributes to soil erosion, further impacting water quality in the region. The Finger Lakes Institute plans to hire four seasonal staff members annually to collaborate with the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Giant Hogweed Program field staff in controlling this hazardous plant.
Control measures will include both mechanical and chemical treatments, depending on the size and location of hogweed infestations. Additionally, the Finger Lakes Institute will appoint a part-time outreach coordinator to develop educational materials and programs about giant hogweed and other invasive species. This comprehensive approach, emphasizing both physical removal and community education, aims to effectively manage the spread of giant hogweed and protect the Finger Lakes and their watersheds. The USDA’s support and partnership with the New York State DEC are pivotal in this environmental initiative.
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