Invasive Species in Alaska – An Essay

About the Author Susan Bradford

Susan Bradford is a Hoonah student passionate about protecting her home in the Tongass through education and action on invasive species. As a 2021 Hoonah Alaskan Youth Stewards (AYS) crew member, Susan was taught how to safely remove invasive Oxeye Daisies from infected areas around town. Later in the season Susan and her fellow crew were invited to Tidelines Institute to teach college students some of the skills AYS learned to keep their community and the Tongass healthy in safe. Upon her first day, Susan’s eyes landed on a vase filled with white flowers during dinner, she then began to share facts that elaborate on the harm and resilience of Oxeye Daisies. Impressed by her knowledge and rigor, Tidelines Staff offered her a time to educate and demonstrate Oxeye Daisy removal on one of the many patches infecting the shoreline. In addition to Susan’s successful crash course, she was inspired and applied for a Youth Mini-Grant with the Alaska Conservation Foundation, to educate her community about the dangers of invasive species in their hometown. With the support of the Alaska Conservation Foundation and encouragement of the Hoonah Indian Association and Hoonah City Schools, Susan has succeeded in education materials, a speech, and the following essay to help her home in the Tongass National Forest.

Invasive species can be found all over the world, you pass them every day. Maybe you have them in your backyard, or you see them on your way home. Overall, invasives have come to Alaska. You may be wondering what an invasive species is, well an invasive species is a living organism not native to its current environment. To give you an idea about the negative impacts invasive species are known to have distrustful and even harmful effects on the animals and surrounding area around them. It is imperative that we fight to remove invasive species in the Tongass.

Already considered a noxious weed in several American states, there is an invasive flower that has become problematic to Alaskan habitat. Oxeye daisies have been an issue in Alaska since the late 1800’s and has been a growing concern for Alaskan wildlife. Unlike the Alaskan daisy, the Oxeye daisy has the power to outcompete native plants surrounding it. As a widespread invasive species, the oxeye daisy easily conquers roadsides, meadows, and even fields in the Alaskan wilderness. The oxeye daisy’s removal is important for the safety of our national forest, the Tongass. Listed as a noxious weed in Washington, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and more, the Oxeye Daisy has started to spread unchecked in the Tongass ecosystem. The Oxeye daisy has no natural predator in the Tongass, and as proof, it is the optimal example of an invasive species.

Introduced to Alaska in late 1982, red legged frogs quickly spread across the state in the blink of an eye, making their way from muskegs to ponds and lakes; namely they pose a very prominent risk to the balance of our ecosystem. They outcompete native amphibians and cause damage to the lakes and ponds they invade.

Trash can also be considered invasive, although it is non-living it causes a great deal of harm to the Alaskan environment. Litter is everywhere on our streets, in our forests and oceans, it’s even in our animals where it does not belong. It is polluting our planet and has started to take over the Tongass. It takes over 10,000 years for trash to decompose and soon our beautiful landscapes will be nothing but landfills and mountains of plastic.

Taking everything previously stated into account the importance of the Tongass ecosystem increases each day, and invasive species threaten to usurp the balance. I believe it is vital that we save not only our Alaskan forests but also the future of our kids and planet. This essay has clearly stated the dangers of invasives in the Tongass national forest. It is vital that we all work together to extinguish the spreading of wildfire of Oxeye daisies.

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