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Calling All Outdoor Enthusiasts! Help Protect Your Favorite Forests and Parks from Invasive Species

Posted by Aaliyah Essex, Public Affairs Assistant, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in Animals
Jun 06, 2019
PlayCleanGo Awareness Week infographic
Invasive species threaten our environment and are costly to the U.S.

Summer is nature’s way of telling us to get outside and have some fun! With warmer temperatures and sweet breezes sweeping across the nation, many of us will try to spend more time outside than inside during the coming weeks and months. Since I started working at USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, I’ve learned that some of my favorite recreation sites are threatened by invasive species. I’ve learned how to leave Hungry Pests behind while hitting the trails.

That’s why I am excited that this week is the first ever #PlayCleanGoWeek, with awareness events taking place across the country June 1-8, planned to coincide with National Trails Day on June 1 and National Get Outdoors Day on June 8. APHIS’ Hungry Pests program teamed up with the North American Invasive Species Management Association’s PlayCleanGo campaign and The Nature Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood campaign because together we can have a bigger impact to show outdoor enthusiasts how they can help stop the spread of invasive plants and pests—while enjoying the great outdoors!

I urge all adventurists to be mindful of invasive pests and plants that be spread during outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, camping, gardening, boating, walking pets, horseback riding, and more. By taking a few easy steps before you head out on your next adventure, you can help keep invasive species from traveling with you. For example:

  • Before moving from one location to another, clean your shoes with a boot brush to remove any soil, plants or seeds that might be trapped in your treads. If you don’t, you could accidentally spread damaging microscopic organisms or invasive weeds to new areas.
  • Don’t give hitchhiking pests a free ride in your firewood! Instead, buy your firewood where you plan to burn it or take only heat-treated firewood with you. Otherwise you could unknowingly spread tree-killing beetles and leaf-munching caterpillars that can harm our forests.
  • If you’re planning to hit the road in your RV or camper, make sure to remove any visible pests, plants, soil, or egg masses before you go. It only takes a few minutes to stop tree-killing insects and other potentially harmful plant pests from traveling with you to your next destination.

Check out a complete list of things for outdoor enthusiasts to do (or not do) in the PlayCleanGo Awareness Week Toolkit, and take the PlayCleanGo pledge.

During PlayCleanGo Awareness week – and all year long -- make a commitment to do your part to stop invasive species in your tracks and leave Hungry Pests behind!

A bike with the PlayCleanGo Awareness Week header
Clean gear before and after you #mountainbike.
Category/Topic: Animals