Stevens Point area volunteers recognized as 2020 Invader Crusaders
For the City Times
MADISON – A Stevens Point area volunteer and a local conservation organization have been recognized as 2020 “Invader Crusaders.”
Invader Crusaders are Wisconsin residents, and one friendly canine, recognized for their contributions to prevent, control, or eradicate nonnative plants and animals that can harm Wisconsin’s ecosystems, economy and in some cases, public health.
Emerald ash borer, quagga mussel, common buckthorn, giant knotweed, sudden oak death pathogen, gypsy moth, garlic mustard, and purple loosestrife are examples of invasive species.
The Invader Crusader award winners are selected by the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council as part of Invasive Species Action Month, which is underway this June. The council is advisory to the DNR, Governor Tony Evers, and the Wisconsin Legislature on invasive species issues.
Nominations come from residents and organizations. Area recognitions were given in the following categories:
Professional Group Winners
Golden Sands Resource Conservation & Development Council, Stevens Point, is a nonprofit organization that works with lake districts, lake associations, friends groups, citizens, private landowners, local government, business, and schools to educate them about Aquatic Invasive Species and motivate them to take action.
Volunteer Individuals Winners
John Eron, Stevens Point, initiated a public education effort about wild parsnip, an invasive plant that can take over prairies, oak savannas, and fens and cause severe rashes and blisters on people who get the sap on their skin. He was appointed weed commissioner of Portage and Wood counties and leads extensive education efforts that have reached county officials and staff, state legislators, and schoolchildren.
Margaret Smith, River Falls, has worked tirelessly in Pierce and St. Croix counties to control wild parsnip, instituting a mapping project using volunteers to report the plant on roadsides for targeted control instead of having the town use broad herbicide application that could harm pollinators and wildflowers.
Georgia Gomez-Ibanez, Cambridge, retired from working with students as a teacher’s aide at Cambridge Elementary School but still helps mobilize students to reduce the impacts of invasive garlic mustard and buckthorn in the school woods. Her innovative ideas to control invasives and her passion inspire the teachers and students.
John Moyles, Menasha, has worked hard in the Fox Valley and Green Bay areas to provide alternatives to release for exotic pet owners who are no longer able to care for their pets. Through his efforts, over 450 pets have been given homes instead of released into the wild.