The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region stretches from Maine to Virginia and includes more than 17,570 miles of shoreline. The region is dominated primarily by the mountainous New England Uplands and the low elevation Atlantic Coastal Plain. The landscape in the northern area of the region is dominated by rocky coastlines and deep valleys which resulted from glaciation thousands of years ago. Whereas the landscape along the southern end of the region is much flatter, resulting in large swaths of low-lying marsh land and meandering rivers.
The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region encompasses some of the most densely populated areas of the United States. A massive population and a long history of human development and industry have caused a number of stressors on fish and wildlife habitats. Some of the most profound stressors for wildlife in the Region are: habitat loss or fragmentation; increased pollution; reductions in water quantity and quality; overfishing; and climate change. Invasive species cause ecological harm by displacing native species, degrading habitat and altering food webs. This, in turn, has a negative impact on industries such as fishing, agricultural, tourism and can threaten human health.
Aquatic invasive species can harm local water supplies, damage native ecosystems, impact outdoor recreation activities, and threaten our health and safety. They cost the U.S. billions of dollars annually to manage and can cause long-term economic and environmental harm.
Common invasive species in the Northeast
Some of the common invasive coastal plant species include: Phragmites (common reed), Japanese knotweed, Japanese stiltgrass, purple loosestrife, Eurasian water-milfoil, mile-a-minute, Hydrilla, water hyacinth, creeping primrose, parrot-feather, didymo (“rock-snot”), water chestnut, devil’s toungue weed, eead-man’s fingers/green fleece
Invasive species and noxious weed classifications are very regionally specific. Sometimes, a plant classified as invasive in one area may not be invasive in another. Check the local noxious weed lists for species considered invasive and what level of control is required. Treatment/removal is unique to the plant species. Some species are easy to remove with hand-pulling. Some species infestations are made worse by hand-pulling and must be controlled with pesticides in accordance with a permit. Consultation with local invasive species authorities is necessary when working with invasive species.
For questions on noxious and invasive plants in your region, the following contacts are a good place to start:
USDA Invasive Species Information
Invasive.org Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health
National Environmental Education Foundation
Native Plants for Dune Restoration and Habitat Diversity
Native Plants for Wetland Restoration and Enhancement
New Jersey’s Overview of Indigenous Plant Species
New York’s Marine Invasive Species
Connecticut Invasive Aquatic Plant Workshops
Maine’s Marine Invasion handout
Best Management Practices for Priority Invasive Plants in the Lower Hudson Valley
The best way for you to help prevent the spread of invasive plant species is to stop new outbreaks before they start. Each of us has a role in keeping our waterways clean and healthy for future generations. The best way that you can help to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species is to always clean your boat after use.
Early detection and reporting can help avoid many of the environmental and economic losses caused by invasive species. Reporting invasive plant species to the experts could stop the next invasion.
Report invasive plant species in your region:
Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System (national)
Mid-Atlantic Early Detection Tool
New Jersey app to record and report locations of invasive populations
New Jersey app that tracks projects and details
Many states have their own reporting hotlines. Some use forms filled in online, some have hotlines to call, and some use mobile apps that can be loaded on a phone. Using your internet browser, search with the terms “invasive species reporting [enter your state or county]” to discover how best to report in your area.