Ashe named Watershed Steward

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MANCHESTER — Invasive species. Ever wonder what these plants and animals did to deserve that threatening title?

The Batten Kill Watershed CISMA thinks that name fits these pests perfectly. Invasive species are groups of organisms not native to this region, whose introduction or spread can cause economic hardship, environmental harm, and/or threaten human health. For example, barberry, an invasive shrub, promotes higher tick populations carrying Lyme disease. Japanese knotweed, a leafy plant with stems resembling bamboo, degrades fish habitat and destabilizes riverbanks. These are just of the invasive species found in our community that the Batten Kill Watershed CISMA is taking action against right now.

This year, BK CISMA welcomes their habitat steward Farrah Ashe. She is part of the ECO AmeriCorps program focusing on Vermont's Clean Water Initiative. From her work with the Lake Champlain Basin Program to projects with The Nature Conservancy and Vermont's Department of Environmental Conservation, she has focused her time and efforts to combat invasive species in Vermont. With her help, the BK CISMA will improve forest and riverine habitat for the future use of the public and the native plants and animals that call it home.

The Batten Kill Watershed Comprehensive Invasive Species Management Association (BK CISMA) has underlined its goals to increase public awareness of invasive plants and to initiate citizen action to better the health of the region's wildlife, waterways, and forests for its people and the outdoor activities they enjoy. The BK CISMA is a unique partnership between stakeholding organizations within the watershed who are joined with the above goals. Our principle partners are: Batten Kill Watershed Alliance, Bennington County Conservation District (BCCD), Bennington County Regional Commission, Calfee Woodland Management, Equinox Preservation Trust, USDA Forest Service, and Vermont Land Trust. We are completed with the help of our supporting partners: Bennington College, Hildene: The Lincoln Family Home, Trout Unlimited (Southwestern VT chapter), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and VT Agency of Natural Resources.

The BK CISMA offers educational workshops and volunteer opportunities to assist those in the community concerned about the negative effects that invasive species cause. Last year, we helped manage a total of 35.3 acres in the Batten Kill watershed for invasive plants. Our partners have chipped in to combating invasives on their own, too. Hildene managed approximately 50 acres for invasive shrubs with the help of Calfee Woodland Management. The CISMA, with the help of its partners, plans on increasing our reach to the community this upcoming year. Our partner BCCD is currently forming a Japanese knotweed management association with thirty-seven landowners on the Green River, a tributary of the Batten Kill. Our association aims to pool the community's management efforts and funds for the benefit of the waterway we all share.

Feel free to contact our steward at Ashe.bkcisma@gmail.com with any questions about the CISMA or invasive species. We are always looking for more community partners and volunteers, so please email us or follow the Batten Kill Watershed CISMA's page on Facebook for more information on how to get involved. Be sure to look in the paper for our up-in-coming invasive plant information each month.

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