15 October 2021

A Small Part in Invasive Species Prevention.

Written by: Cameron Morrow

The prevention of invasive species is paramount in the never-ending battle to keep out lands healthy, habitable, and useable for future generations. I, as an engineering technician that works with roads, do my part in this battle by conducting equipment inspections of contractors' machinery that will be working in the Apalachicola National Forest. To complete this objective, we look for any material that can trap or carry foreign seed that might facilitate the spread of nonnative flora into the forest.
Since the contractors that I interact with are going to be doing work on roads, the machines that I inspect are large and have many small nooks and crannies that must be checked. Every bolt, joint, compartment, hose, cavity, etc. must be checked to ensure that the machine has been cleaned to our rigorous standards.
Even this small amount of dirt is unacceptable as it could harbor unwanted species that might damage the forest's health!                                                                                     Even this small amount of material is enough to prevent the equipment from being brought onto the forest!
While mud and dirt are the main things we look for, other environmental threats are obviously searched for as well. Things such as hydraulic, oil, or fuel leaks are the major ones we look for. Differentiating between a hydraulic or oil leak from dripping water was difficult at first since some machines have just recently been cleaned prior to our arrival and thus are still wet.
 20211013 123224                                                                                                                                       Can you tell what this small fluid leak is?                                               
Some infractions are much easier to spot, though. Egregious dirt buildup is an obvious discrepancy that must be rectified before entrance into the forest is permitted. The void under hydraulic stabilizing legs is a surprisingly common place to find material buildup. 
20211013 122906                                                                                              This obviously would not be allowed entrance into the forest if presented as such for an inspection
While not an entirely glamorous task to perform, equipment inspections are an important part in the monumental task of preventing invasive species from devastating our national lands. While its importance is not easily overstated, it is a simple task to perform and, more importantly, it keeps the biologists happy! Please look forward to hearing about the exciting world of road construction and maintenance in my next post!

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: Apalachicola National Forest

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