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North Country News

Regional Invasive Species Expert Moving To Federal Job

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Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program
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The head of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program is leaving to take a high-level job at the Department of the Interior.

Hilary Smith will become the federal agency’s invasive species coordinator and policy liaison to the National Invasive Species Council. She will coordinate the strategic plan for combating the introduction and spread of invasive species between the federal agency’s 10 bureaus.

Smith began her career in 2002 when she created the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program. Although plant is in the title, the office deals with a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic invasive species. The program was the basis for the state’s regional PRISMs, or Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management offices.
Smith began studying invasives as an undergraduate and says she is excited to move to the federal level.  “I think there’s a lot of intersections between the work that we’ve been doing here in New York and then the types of efforts that I’ll be involved in at the national level.  I’m very excited. I mean it’s hard to leave but at the end of the day when I’ve thought about other positions that would take me away from this amazing place it was either working at the state level on invasive species issues or at the federal level.  So it’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.  But that being said working with APPIP and here in the Adirondacks has been an opportunity of a lifetime.”  

Lake Champlain Basin Program Aquatic Invasive Species Management Coordinator Meg Modley notes that for over a decade Smith has been addressing both aquatic and terrestrial invasive species in the region.  “Her efforts have really helped facilitate the coordination among federal, state and local partners.  It’s wonderful that we have a local expert who is going to be addressing nationwide invasive species issues in Washington.  It is very important to recognize all of the fantastic accomplishments that she has helped the basin achieve in terms of early detection and monitoring and engaging with the public and looking at the data and the research and reinforcing spread prevention messages and getting in and controlling critical invasive species populations.  The Department of Interior will be receiving a very strong and a very connected person.”

Lake Champlain Committee Staff Scientist Mike Winslow calls Smith a great asset to the Lake Champlain basin and Adirondack Park region.  “I hope she can bring her enthusiasm, her knowledge and her skills to the Department of Interior.  It’s a great day for the Department of Interior and her loss to the region will be missed.   It’s a logical stepping stone for her and she can have more of a national reach rather than a regional reach.  But we liked having her in the region.”

SUNY Plattsburgh Lake Champlain Research Institute Director Tim Mihuc says Smith is an extremely capable invasive species scientist and management coordinator.  “We’re losing one of our leaders in this issue.  Someone who’s been very, very capable regionally in dealing with this issue and helping us solve problems and hopefully even prevent some of the invasions that might have otherwise occurred had we not had Hilary in this region. Having said that, hopefully her skills will be used very effectively at the next level, at the federal level.  So I think her moving up to the Department of Interior is a probably a very good move on the Department of Interior’s part. They’re getting a person who’s very good at what they do.  She’ll be definitely be missed in terms of invasive species issues in our region.  And she was instrumental in creating the whole structure of how we deal with invasive species region by region in the state of New York.”

Smith begins her new job in Washington on October 20th. Brendan Quirion, the current terrestrial invasive plant coordinator, will become director of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program.

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