ELKINS — In partnership with the University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, USDA Forest Service, and other organizations across the United States, Wildlife Forever has launched a nationwide citizen science volunteer program called Wild Spotter. Monongahela National Forest is participating in the pilot program, along with 11 other National Forests and Grasslands.
The Wild Spotter program targets invasive plants in and around wilderness areas. The program helps locate and map invasive species. It also engages and empowers the public, local communities, states, tribes, and many other groups to help the Forest Service confront threats from harmful exotic plants, animals, and pathogens that invade America’s wild places.
Using a targeted list of “most wanted” species, volunteers receive information and support to get started as a Wild Spotter volunteer. Once a Wild Spotter volunteer identifies and reports a species, the data is verified by experts and then made publicly available through a networked invasive species inventory database hosted by the University of Georgia. “We are proud that Wild Spotter is expanding citizen science volunteer capacity against invasive species by capitalizing on the outdoor activities of millions of people who are already enjoying some of the most beautiful places in America, to help us gather information on the locations of these harmful exotic invaders in any ecosystem,” said Chuck Bergeron, associate director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. “Like the idea of ‘see-something, say-something,’ Wild Spotter greatly enhances the early detection and rapid response capabilities of agencies like the Forest Service,”
To become a Wild Spotter volunteer or partner, visit https://wildspotter.org/ or contact W.J. Cober, forest recreation program manager, at 304-635-4436.