ROCHESTER, Minn. - What began as a conference of 330 people in Duluth in 2008 has grown into a conference of more than 700 people from 32 states, 5 Canadian provinces, and 4 countries meeting every other year in rotating cities. On Thursday, the Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference (UMISC) joined with the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA) to host their 6th biennial conference at the Mayo Civic Center.
Invasive species are non-native plants and animals that are harmful to the environment they're growing and reproducing in. People at the conference learned about invasive species, how to manage their spread, and to take the knowledge they gain back to their home communities. Throughout the four-day conference, there were 267 presentations, 8 field trips, and 6 workshops.
"Invasive species affect everybody" says Doug Jensen, who is with the University of Minnesota Sea Grant program and co-chair of UMISC. "There's terrestrial invasive species that are invading our urban lands. They're also invading our natural areas as well as our wild lands and our ranges and they're costing us billions and billions of dollars. Its estimated that in the united states we spend over 138 billion dollars per year in control and management of invasive species,"
Although we're approaching colder weather and the outdoors will begin to freeze over, the work of controlling invasive species isn't over, as invasive species have adapted to the midwest's winters, explains NAISMA's president Kelly Cooley. "The changing of the seasons for a person that's a practitioner or researcher in invasive species, has the time to analyze their data, has the time to see whether their control strategies were effective and gear up for the return of spring the following season," he says. "So there is no real off season in invasive species management."
UMISC will meet again in 2020, likely in Duluth. The event was in La Crosse the conference prior.