Raising awareness of invasive species in Shenandoah National Park

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PAGE COUNTY, Va (WHSV) -- Invasive species are threatening many plants and animals in Shenandoah National Park. This week is National Invasive Species Awareness Week, designed to shine light on the issues those species cause to native environments.

The biggest threat Shenandoah National Park is facing is the Emerald Ash Borer, which is devastating ash trees throughout the park. White Ashes make up about 5% of the total forest vegetation in the national park, so losing them would be significant.

These trees act as homes for many birds and mammals. The pests weaken the trees, making them more likely to fall over, which becomes a safety issue in recreation areas. In addition to the Emerald Ash Borer, they are also seeing invasive vegetation, such as Wavyleaf Basketgrass, Oriental Bittersweet, and Japanese Stiltgrass. These also threaten native vegetation. You can learn more about each in the graphics at the bottom of this article.

These species also threaten the economy, according to Rolf Gubler, Biologist at SNP.

"From an economic standpoint, you talk about timber, baseball bats, and all those types of things," Gubler said. "You're talking about millions and millions of dollars in losses."

He added the fight with invasive species is a never-ending and uphill battle. They have to pick and choose which battles to fight, because they don't have enough funds to fight off all of the threats. They choose to look after recreation areas the most, since falling trees can cause damage to life or property, and human safety is their biggest concern.