The Rhode Island Invasive Species Council is developing measures that can be used to assess the impact of invasive species on natural habitats in the Narragansett Bay Region (which includes virtually all of Rhode Island) and our collective capacity (agencies, non-profits, local groups, and private citizens) to deal with the threats. In 2011, RIISC began assisting the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program and URI’s coastal institute with a project called Watershed Counts. Watershed Counts is a collaborative effort by a large number of groups to quantify environmental condition and change through time in the Narragansett Bay Region in simple terms, digesting existing scientific knowledge and publicizing the results in ways that will inform and engage the general public. Watershed Counts is funded by grants from the Rhode Island Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Healthy Communities Grant Program.
RIISC’s role is to develop a metric for invasive species that incorporates both on-the ground measurements of invasives extent and impact and assessments of invasive survey and management efforts. The development process includes meetings, surveys, and other communications.
In April 2011, we reported on our first meetings and a preliminary assessment of the invasive species situation at a news conference at the Rhode Island State House. We plan to continue reporting annually on invasives’ extent and impact in Rhode Island and our (collective) survey and management efforts. Download Watershed Counts annual reports and other information at the Watershed Counts website.
As part of its Watershed Counts work, the RIISC created a process to “nominate” invasive species of likely importance to Rhode Island. A description of the criteria and the list of “nominated” species is available. From this larger list, a smaller number of “metric” species are now being tracked and form the basis for the annual Watershed Counts reports.