Catskills: CRISP

The Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP), hosted by the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, is working with partners to address invasive species issues in the greater Catskills region.  CRISP, is one of eight Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) in New York State.  CRISP was formed in 2010, to coordinate invasive species activities of partner organizations; recruit and train citizen scientists in invasive species identification; monitoring, management and prevention techniques; raise awareness about invasive species; and establish a monitoring network for early detection species.

Source: Catskills CRISP.


We protect the ecological integrity, water resources, recreational values and the economy from the devastating impacts of invasive species, working across a diverse landscape with both public and private landowners.


We promote education, prevention, early detection, and control of invasive species to limit their impact on the ecosystems and economies of the Catskills.

The Catskills are important area for the ecosystem services that they provide.  Aquatic features of the CRISP region include six reservoirs of the drinking water supply for 9 million people.  Forestry and agriculture are significant sectors of the region’s economy.  The Catskills are an important destination for recreation and tourism.  Outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking, fishing, and skiing. attract nearly 2.5 million visitors per year to the Catskills, contributing $115 million to the economy.  Invasive species threaten the unique ecology, natural resources, and outdoor recreation-based economy of the Catskills.  More forest pests occur in New York State than any other state in the country, making Catskill forests especially vulnerable.


CRISP regularly collaborates with over 55 organizations and agencies, coordinating on invasive species projects, programs and initiatives.

CRISP Steering Committee

Name Organization
Tom Pavlesich (Chair) Watershed Agricultural Council
Ethan Angell New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
Ian Dunn New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Kris Gilbert New York State Department of Transportation
Jessica Newbern National Park Service
Jeff Senterman Catskill Center for Conservation and Development
Catherine Skalda Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District
Meredith Taylor New York City Department of Environmental Protection
Ryan Trapani Catskill Forest Association
Donna Vogler SUNY Oneonta
Marilyn Wyman Cornell Cooperative Extension of Greene County
Chris Zimmerman The Nature Conservancy


Preventing an invasive species from moving into an area requires an understanding of the movement of invasives and stopping that pathway.  Raising awareness about the vulnerability of the Catskills to forest pests and pathogens has been a focus of CRISP since its beginning.  The movement of firewood is one pathway of introducing forest pests.  Promoting “Don’t Move Firewood” prevents the spread of Asian Longhorn Beetle and other forest pests and pathogens.

Boats and boat trailers moving from one waterbody to another are a vector for the movement of aquatic invasives. Since 2012, the CRISP Watershed Stewards program has worked to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species. SUNY Oneonta leads the CRISP Watershed Steward Program by annually training over 35 Watershed Stewards to interpret invasive species prevention and collect waterbody use data at high use access sites.  Watershed Stewards provided information and boat inspections at Otsego Lake, Canadarago Lake, and along the Delaware River within the Upper Delaware River National Scenic and Recreation Area.

Early Detection and Rapid Response

The goal of Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) efforts are to increase the likelihood that invasions will be eradicated before they become established. The CRISP high priority early detection species were selected because they could invade important habitats and spread within the region. CRISP has designated the following terrestrial species as the highest priority Early Detection and Rapid Response species:


Rank Common Name Scientific Name
1 Mile-A-Minute Persicaria perfoliata
2 Slender False Brome Brachypodium sylvatum
3 Japanese Angelica Tree Aralia elata
4 Japanese Tree Lilac Syringa reticulate
5 Himalayan Balsam Impatiens gladulifera


Aquatic Invasive Species have the potential to disrupt aquatic ecological communities, negatively impact water quality and limit recreation opportunities.  The prevention and education programs of the CRISP Watershed Steward Program have been effective in addressing vectors for the movement of species between water bodies. The Early Detection and Rapid Response aquatic species that are the highest priority in CRISP are the following:


Rank Common Name Scientific Name
1 Hydrilla Hydrilla verticillata
2 Floating Primrose-willow Ludwigia peploides
3 Common Frogbit Hydrocharis morsus-ranae
4 Yellow Floatingheart Nymphoides peltata
5 Brazilian waterweed Egeria densa
6 Carolina fanwort Cabomba caroliniana

CRISP works with Cornell Cooperative Extension to provide Early Detection citizen science trainings.  Volunteers learn how to identify and report high priority Early Detection species using the iMapInvasives database.


CRISP works with other organizations on controlling invasive species infestations by using best management practices with goals of 1) eradication where all individuals and propagules can be eliminated from an area 2) containment where an infestation can be limited from spreading to un-infested areas and 3) suppression to reduce the density and protect targeted areas, but not necessarily remove the invasive from a region.

CRISP has been a participant in the NYS DEC’s Giant Hogweed removal program since 2011 and has responded to and removed all reported Giant Hogweed plants in the CRISP region since that time.

CRISP has supported partners to pursue targeted control projects. Over a five-year period, CRISP subcontracted with the Rondout-Neversink Stream Program to treat Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica).  Local highway crews were trained in identification and reporting procedures and educational signage was posted at town and county garages.

CRISP staff leads programs on Best Management Practices (BMP’s) to control established invasive species, reaching landowners and industry professionals. These trainings focus on communicating up-to-date information on best management practices of each species, as well as detailed biological characteristics that might inform landowner management. The programs may also include information on the Invasive Plant Management Decision Analysis Tool to empower landowners to make management decisions with high likelihoods of success.

Invasive Plant Management Decision Analysis Tool

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), threatens the persistence of hemlock in the Catskills and was originally detected in the Catskills in the late 1980s and has since spread through many hemlock stands across the region. HWA is regarded as the greatest threat to hemlock forests in the region, and has been found to infest most surveyed hemlock stands in the Catskill Mountains.  CRISP has monitored HWA and hemlock health since 2014 and is using this data to participate in biocontrol releases to combat HWA.  Working with the New York State Hemlock Initiative, CRISP staff has released HWA biocontrol, Laricobius nigrinus has been released on several sites and Silver Flies (Leucopis argenticollis and L. piniperda) were released for the first time in 2017.

In 2013 and 2014 CRISP assisted New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and USDA-APHIS to release Emerald Ash Borer biocontrol and monitor release sites.

Raising Awareness

CRISP has endeavored to increase public awareness and understanding of invasive species especially focused on forest pests such as ALB and EAB through its Beetle Busters trainings, which trained over 450 people from 2012-2014. CRISP has mailed information cards to over 16,000 households, alerting landowners about EAB, ALB, Eurasian boar, and Mile-A-Minute.

CRISP staff conducted over 50 programs per year to individual landowners, volunteers, and industry professionals with the goal of raising awareness of invasive species and prevention actions generally. Many of these events focus on species and habitats that are likely to be impacted by invasive species. Prevention and awareness-focused events also discuss achievable prevention activities such as the Don’t Move Firewood campaign, and the Clean/Drain/Dry and Play/Clean/Go initiatives. All of these initiatives play an important role in preventing the spread of established invasive species and the introduction of novel invasive species. They also connect directly to activities that many private landowners engage in often, focusing on small behavior changes that offer large benefits.

In addition to the programs led by CRISP staff, CRISP has subcontracted with Cornell Cooperative Extension since 2013 to provide outreach in counties throughout the CRISP region.  CCE performs outreach at fairs, festivals and workshops in Delaware, Greene, Otsego, Schoharie, Ulster and Sullivan Counties.


CRISP has supported a number of programs to improve the scientific understanding of the extent, ecological impact, and effective controls of invasive species in the Catskills.  In 2014, CRISP collaborated with The Nature Conservancy to survey 35 hemlock stands that were mapped within a 700,000-acre area.  The study assessed the health of 35 hemlock sample stands and the distribution of HWA was recorded.  CRISP staff and interns continue to annually monitor 10 of those hemlock stands.

Emerald Ash Borer was first found in our region in 2010 and has impacted ash trees across most of the CRISP region.  CRISP staff worked to train citizen scientists and help communities to prepare for EAB. CRISP worked with 20 communities to develop community ash tree inventories, monitored EAB biocontrol, and supported Olive Natural Heritage Society to inventory isolated old growth ash stands.

HWA monitoring trainings focus on reporting HWA using a statewide standardized data collection methodology for HWA density and hemlock health. HWA phenology trainings are also offered.

Contact Info

CRISP Coordinator
Catskill Center for Conservation and Development
P.O. Box 504
Arkville, NY  12406
(845) 586-2611