CREW ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
The WNY PRISM Crew Assistance Program improves invasive species management across the region by assisting partners with invasive species surveys and mapping, invasive species removal, habitat management and restoration projects. We work alongside our partners to accomplish priority projects they would be otherwise be unable to do alone.
WNY PRISM’s Crew Assistance Program was established to help improve invasive species management across the region by assisting partners with priority projects involving invasive species surveys, removal, and habitat restoration. It offers valuable opportunities for partners to work alongside WNY PRISM’s experienced staff and trained seasonal crew to learn about invasive species management and gain experience implementing management strategies and using removal methods and equipment. Since 2016, WNY PRISM has completed 105 projects and worked with 84 different partners.
WNY PRISM staff is always available to discuss invasive species management projects and assist with management planning. We’d love to hear from you!
WNY PRISM is not currently accepting proposals for the Crew Assistance Program – please check back in December 2024. To learn more about the 2024 Crew Assistance Program including eligibility, proposal requirements, eligibility, priorities and review criteria, please view the full WNY PRISM Crew Assistance Program 2024 Request for Proposals (RFP). Be sure to read through the entire RFP as it provides necessary information and instructions to support your proposal and because aspects of the program have been updated for 2024. For more information, see the WNY PRISM Crew Assistance Program Frequently Asked Questions.
Crew Assistance Program Project Examples
Rattlesnake Hill Wildlife Management Area – Invasive Species Removal
The WNY PRISM Crew (Crew) worked with the DEC to treat a 1.09 mile stretch of forest edge with dense invasive species cover, to protect the interior of the forest which is relatively free of invasives. The species targeted for cut-stump treatment included bush honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), multi-flora rose (Rosa multiflora) and common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica).
This project demonstrated the importance of working together to achieve invasive species management. DEC staff operated chainsaws and brushcutters to remove the invasive shrubs, Finger Lakes Trail volunteers piled the cut material to make stumps accessible and the Crew applied herbicide to the cut shrubs. This assembly-line process allowed the entire project site to be treated in the allotted time, a task which could not have been completed by one group alone. The DEC can now return to the area and foliar treat new invasive shrub seedlings in the spring, which is much less time consuming than the removal and treatment of large, established shrubs.
This project provided the Crew with an opportunity to network with professionals in the field and learn about future internship and employment opportunities. The DEC and Finger Lakes Trail volunteers showcased this work through newsletter articles to strengthen partnership and get the word out about working with WNY PRISM.
Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve – Habitat Management and Restoration
The Crew assisted Reinstein Woods staff and volunteers in restoration efforts in a Phragmites infestation that has been managed since 2016. The infestation is now at a stage where habitat restoration can be implemented to buffer against future invasive species infestations and build up the native biodiversity. The Crew worked within the area treated for Phragmites to plant native species that can tolerate moist soils and withstand flooding and constructed fenced deer exclosures around the native plants.
This project demonstrated the importance of long-term management that includes restoration to prevent new invasive species from moving into a site and to increase native biodiversity. It also provided the Crew with an opportunity to see restoration in action, since our work is heavily focused on invasive species removal.
The Crew was able to work alongside Reinstein Woods staff to learn more about the preserve and other ongoing projects on site. Reinstein Woods staff shuttled all of the Crew’s equipment and lunches to the restoration site, and even provided ice water as a nice way to cool off while planting. Photos of the Crew and a description of the work was posted to Reinstein Woods social media accounts to showcase for the public the importance of invasive species management and restoration. WNY PRISM was also invited to give a walk and talk during the Fall Festival to discuss the restoration work on site.
Craneridge Association – Invasive Species Survey and Mapping, Followed by Removal
The Craneridge Homeowners Association, located in Southern Erie County, is a community that is working to remove invasive species and plant native species to support a healthy community-wide ecosystem. As part of this effort, in 2021 the Crew conducted an invasive species inventory survey of the neighborhood to identify and map invasive species present on site. During the survey, the Crew was able to work alongside the Craneridge community members to share knowledge of invasive species and learn more about the project site and why community members are interested in improving the habitat. The information from the survey was uploaded to iMapInvasives, so the Craneridge residents can access the data, and survey maps were provided.
In 2022 and 2023, the Craneridge Homeowners Association used the information from the inventory survey to submit proposals focused on invasive species removal. In 2022, the Crew removed invasive shrubs alongside a few volunteers from the Craneridge community who were interested in learning more about Best Management Practices. In 2023, the Crew carried out follow up treatment of invasive shrubs and implemented Phragmites removal. The multi-year project allowed the Crew to collect post-treatment monitoring data to assess success on site.
This project is important because it showcases a group of homeowners taking action to plant native, remove invasive species and focus on overall ecosystem health in their community. The Craneridge Woodlands & Habitat Committee joined the Crew during the survey and removal work, demonstrating their genuine interest in learning about invasive species.
Franklin Gulf County Park – Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Survey and Site Assessment
The WNY Crew assisted the Erie County Bureau of Forestry by collecting hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) data at Franklin Gulf County Park. In 2022 the NYS Hemlock Initiative released silver flies (Leucotaraxis spp.), a biocontrol agent for HWA. In 2023, the Crew conduct an in-depth site assessment of the hemlock stands on site to help with prioritization of future HWA management efforts. The Crew surveyed 356 acres of hemlock stands throughout Franklin Gulf.
The Crew used the Survey123 iMap Forest Pest Data Collection Tool for the site assessment, since this is tailored to forest pest surveys. The Crew delineated hemlock stands in the park, and for each stand collected data including presence or absence of HWA, average HWA density, percent of trees infested with HWA, live crown ratio and crown density. Maps were created to assist with stand prioritization for future management efforts. This data will help Erie County determine which stands are a priority for pesticide treatment, and also help the NYS Hemlock Initiative determine future biocontrol release sites within the park.