PlayCleanGo, invasive species

A Love-Hate Relationship with Invasive Species

If you’re like me, you have a love-hate relationship with February. I love the excuse to give and eat lots of chocolate, but it can get to be a bit much. I love planning my summer trips, but hate having to wait for better weather to go do them.

How about the frigid temperatures that many of us have endured in recent weeks? We may not love the feeling of -25 F on our faces, but those temps have helped kill off larvae of the emerald ash borer and other forest pests. Hooray!

While we usually associate the month of February with love, especially professionals and volunteers who love getting a break from doing removals and treatments on invasive species to protect our precious natural areas, we are seriously crushing on the idea that Spring is just around the corner. And with spring, while we get to bathe in the sunshine, explore the wide blue yonder, we unfortunately have to be careful not to spread invasive species that threaten the natural areas that we love.

While it might be hard to feel the least bit of happiness—let alone LOVE—of invasive species prevention and management work in our community of natural resource professionals, there are successes that we need to celebrate when they happen.


Volunteers and proactive outdoor recreationists are critical to preventing the spread of new invasive plants, bugs, and aquatic critters in our favorite places. Your local park (or not-so-local park if you like to travel far away to explore new areas) likely has a volunteer group that helps keep invasive species out by doing manual removals.

Connect with your local park’s volunteer group. Volunteer to help remove invasive species. Pledge to clean your gear every time you enter or leave the trail or boat landing. Make a donation to support their hard work after you leave your trip.

Hate—Uninvited invasive species

Channel that love of the outdoors into a HATE for those pesky bugs and animals, weeds or aquatic invasive species.


Springtime brings an abundance of wildflowers. And who doesn’t love wildflowers? Unless…

Hate—Invasive wildflowers

We don’t realize that a patch of wildflowers could include invasive species that came from far away. But by keeping your PlayCleanGo bootbrush in your pack and your LeaveNoTrace Ethics card in your pocket to remind you how to stop the spread of invasive species, you’ll be doing Mother Nature a solid favor.

While we get a whole month to reflect on our meaningful relationships and show everyone around us how much we care, let’s show everyone just how much we love to hate invasive species and the damage they are causing to our true love—the world around us! Let’s demonstrate the real successes of this Love/Hate relationship we have with invasive species.

PlayCleanGo is an education and awareness campaign to remind outdoor recreationists to prevent the accidental spread of invasive species on their gear. No matter what your favorite activity is, everyone can help: Play in the outdoors, then Clean your gear before you Go to your next adventure.

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