New River Conservancy’s New River Valley Program Director, Cathy Hanks, has been in Charlottesville, VA participating in a three-day workshop with Blue Ridge PRISM’s “Building a Statewide Coalition and Strategic Blueprint to Reduce Invasive Plants and Increase the Availability of Native Plants.” Blue Ridge PRISM (Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management) (BRP) is an organization dedicated to reducing the negative impact of invasive plants in the northern Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
Invasive species can cause extinctions of native plants and animals, reduce biodiversity, compete with native organisms for limited resources, and alter habitats of native plants and animals. Invasive species can also clog water facilities and waterways. If left unchecked, they can cause damage to streams and rivers. Partnering with organizations such as BRP creates opportunities to further protect the waters, woodlands and wildlife of the New River Watershed.
The three-day strategic planning workshop is a targeted effort to reduce the presence of invasive plants in Virginia. To do this, BRP brought together a microcosm of interconnected systems in Virginia that interacts with, influences, and intersects with invasive plants. By the end of the third day, the aim was to have identified two to six statewide initiatives to make progress against the tsunami of invasive plants, make plans for each initiative, and empower a leadership team that will drive each of the initiatives over the following months and years.
Blue Ridge PRISM reduces the impact of invasive plants on the ecosystems of the northern Blue Ridge Mountains and surrounding areas through regional and statewide advocacy, landowner support, implementing control measures, and public education. Blue Ridge Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management or PRISM is Virginia’s first Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) and a registered 501(c)(3) public charity.
Cathy Hanks, far left in orange, sits in a workshop on combating invasive plants.