Under many challenges, thousands of people are controlling invasive species every day. They know that without someone guarding their forests, fields and waters, North America would lose its food web, agricultural heritage, and native species that fuel the life of this continent. Many invasive species professionals feel like they’re on their own, and NAISMA is here to connect them to one another. The NAISMA Field Dispatches chronicle the daily work, concerns and success of invasive species managers and leaders across North America.
Meet Chuck Bargeron. He’s Director of the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, designer of Bugwood Images and EDDMapS, and NAISMA’s President-Elect. His full biography can be found on the Bugwood Center website. Just before National Invasive Species Awareness Week kicks off, we sat down with Chuck from his office in Georgia to get a pulse on the latest in national invasive species management.
Let’s start from the beginning. At what point in your career did you start working with invasive species?
My first job was CAPS data coordinator for Georgia. CAPS is the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey program run by USDA APHIS PPQ and state Departments of Agriculture. It is focused on regulated pests, most of which are invasive. As I helped to build Bugwood, our focus shifted from Forest Health and Integrated Pest Management to focusing more on Invasive Species.
Now you are Director of the Bugwood Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. And invasive species managers might recognize a few of your other credentials…
I designed and developed the infrastructure behind Bugwood Images, which runs the ForestryImages.org, Invasive.org, IPMImages.org, InsectImages.org and WeedImages.org websites. My most recent focus is on mapping invasive species and tools for Early Detection and Rapid Response using EDDMapS and smartphone applications.
So you’ve helped build some of the most recognizable tools in the invasive species world. Who do you look up to?
I have learned from true legends in our field, by working closely with Jim Miller, Dave Moorhead, Keith Douce, Dick Reardon, Rita Beard, Tony Pernas, Don Schmitz, Randy Westbrooks and Les Mehrhoff.
What challenges or concerns do you have regarding invasive species management? Does anything keep you up at night?
My biggest concern is the lack of funding available for invasive species management and research, especially for invasive plants.
You and your staff have found a good analogy for communicating invasive species threats to the public. Care to share?
We have had a lot of success by relating the biological pollution caused by invasive species to the chemical pollution that everyone is more familiar with.
Lightning Round! What’s your…
- Favorite tool? EDDMapS (of course)
- Favorite invasive species? Nile Monitors. There is just something scary about a 6 foot lizard.
- Least favorite invasive species? Cogongrass
- Favorite native species? Longleaf pine
- Favorite natural area? Arches National Park
- Preference: coffee or tea? Ice cold Sweet tea
What’s life like with a drawl?
I believe that I talk correctly and everyone else has a drawl.
Plus I am the fast-talking southerner which can make things difficult sometimes.
Where would you like EDDMapS to be in 5-10 years?
EDDMapS has had huge growth in the last few years, and I want that to continue as we add new partners and parts of the world.
My real hope is to have boot brush stations at every trailhead in the U.S. with information on PlayCleanGo and Wild Spotter/EDDMapS. This is the invasive species moon shot that we need in the next 10 years.
You’re NAISMA’s president-elect. Where would you like the association to be in 5-10 years?
I am excited about the direction that NAISMA is going and glad to be a part of it. I think we can expand our membership to 3 or 4 times where it is now. The interest is there, we just have to get more professionals engaged.
How did you get involved with National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW)?
We took over hosting the NISAW website from the Center for Invasive Plant Management at Montana State before they closed. Then when I was appointed to the National Invasive Species Advisory Committee, I became more involved in the annual planning.
What’s your biggest accomplishment?
I just finished my 20th year with the University of Georgia and was promoted to be the Director of the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. That is what I am most proud of professionally, but I am looking forward to what I can accomplish in the next 20 years in this role.