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Forest managers can fight invasive species that come with roads

to 60 years between when a road is built and when a road is completely covered by invasive species," explains Hawbaker, referring to the results. "The actual time lag depends on the invasive species' dispersal capabilities and the density of roads. The time lag decreases substantially over time as new roads are added."

That window is both a problem and an opportunity, says Volker Radeloff, a forestry professor who supervised Hawbaker's work. "On one hand, people won't see invasives immediately, and they may assume it's not an issue and underestimate the ecological impact of roads. But on the other hand, there is a window of time to do something."

The best defense against invasive species is good monitoring by forest managers and quick action against new satellite populations, according to Radeloff and Hawbaker. "It actually pays to be proactive in this case," says Radeloff.

And, as the window period gets shorter when road density increases, another solution is to carefully consider whether or not to build new roads. "Areas without roads are quickly becoming treasures," adds Radeloff.

These findings, he says, lend support to a federal policy aimed at conserving roadless areas in national forests and grasslands; the rule has been the target of litigation in several states, and has recently been changed to allow state governors to build roads in formerly roadless areas for certain purposes.


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Contact: Todd Hawbaker
tjhawbaker@wisc.edu
608-265-9219
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1-Aug-2004


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