It's Official! PlayCleanGo Awareness Week is June 1-8, 2019

PlayCleanGo-WEEK-IG-2Invasive species cost the US Economy over $138 Billion each year and almost 50% of all threatened and endangered species are at risk due to competition from invasive species. What if every outdoor enthusiasts was provided the tools to Stop Invasive Species in Their Tracks - could we stop the spread? We believe so!

We invite YOU and your organization to join us in promoting the first official PlayCleanGo Awareness Week, June 1-8, 2019, held in partnership with Don't Move Firewood and Hungry Pests.

We have created a week's work of FREE resources including press releases, graphics, videos and social posts, that can be used to raise awareness and exhibit to other outdoor enthusiasts on how they can stop invasive plants and pests from spreading.

Along with the hashtag #PlayCleanGoWeek, we encourage any agency, organization, educator, business, or individual to celebrate the week by sharing one of these great new resources while also HOSTING your own PlayCleanGo Awareness Week Event:

The goal of this campaign is to show outdoor enthusiasts how they can stop invasive plants and pests from spreading. Visit HERE for more information on how you can observe the national awareness week.

Do you have a #PlayCleanGoWeek event scheduled? We want to share it with our 125,000 social followers! Click here to email us the details.

News For All Partners

Renew YOUR Partnership TODAY

Access to PlayCleanGo benefits are NOW located on our website! The password-protected portal has replaced Dropbox and allows us the ability to provide the best service to our partners. The portal gives the renewed partner access to benefits including graphics (new ones coming very soon!) graphic design, networking, new webinars, discounts on partner materials and more. In June, we will also update the partner map and don't want you to fall off. It is imperative to take action now to maintain access to your partner benefits! After renewing, partners will receive instructions on how to set-up their password protected access. If you recently renewed and was not walked through how to set-up access, please contact us today. As a friendly reminder, we ask that you renew your status as a PlayCleanGo Partner before June! Join Now >

New Educational Outreach Videos Available


New videos have been released on PlayCleanGo’s social media channels that we hope you will share on your social channels too. Thanks to funding from USDA-APHIS, input and guidance from our Eastern U.S. Expansion Committee, National Advisory Council and expert direction from our marketing firm, YodelPop, we have developed and launched several new videos to share the PlayCleanGo message even farther and wider.

Each video not only tells a specific story, such as why we should care about invasive species (because they take over habitat from native species and of course much, much more), but also shows a specific invasive species as part of the story. We want people to recognize these harmful species but most importantly that doing the right behavior is really the key to preventing the spread of invasive species.

Now we need YOU! These videos need to be shared by every one of our partners – YOU – to have the impact we need to prevent recreationists from spreading invasive species accidentally. Click on the links below, share the video links on your social channels, and don’t forget to tag #PlayCleanGo.

We'd like to give a special thanks to CD3 for sponsoring the #ProTips video (coming soon)! You’ve got to see it!

PlayCleanGo Partner Renewal Spotlight

Contributing Organizations


  • Nebraska Weed Control Association


News from PlayCleanGo Partners

Do you have news, an event or a success story you would like to share with all PlayCleanGo Partners? We would love to post it! Please email us your article content.

Unconventional Prevention Efforts

HWAsurvey_Audrey Menninga_2019.02.20-1PlayCleanGo partner Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network tried paying people to remove invasive ornamental shrub Japanese barberry and promote PCG’s message. 

This is how the day went:

Japanese barberry, Berberis thunbergii is an invasive shrub that is moving into higher and higher concern in northwest lower Michigan.  Commonly used in landscapes, Japanese barberry escapes by seed into surrounding forests and oak savannahs, crowding out native plants, not supporting wildlife, and even changing soil chemistry.  According to a 2012 study from the University of Connecticut, barberry also harbors black-legged ticks (aka deer ticks) that serve as vectors for Lyme disease.  With ticks and Lyme disease on the rise in Michigan, this makes getting Japanese barberry out of landscapes a priority for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN).

Through a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, orchestrated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ISN created a Trade-Up program to host a Dumpster Day:  members of the public could sign up, share how many barberry shrubs they had, and come to a specially-ordered dumpster to exchange their invasive ornamental plants for $5 coupons to participating local businesses (from our Go Beyond Beauty program) for a replacement.

On the much-awaited Dumpster Day, participants brought their barberry in during assigned time blocks to alleviate congestion.  Play Clean Go played an important part in the message we sent home with participants.  We shared a list of landscape alternatives and other barberry-specific information, but prevention messaging went above and beyond.  ISN took the opportunity to encourage clean boots, boats, and bait and gave out PCG “swag” to especially interested participants.  The tattoos were a big hit with kids!

In all, 102 plants were removed from landscapes through this program, with 25 landowner participants, three volunteers, and 11 hours of volunteer work stationed at the dumpster.  The program was so successful that a second Dumpster Day is scheduled for the end of July of this year!  With the success of working with local business Brewery Terra Firma to remove their shrubs, we plan to reach out to businesses with barberry in their landscapes as well as homeowners to increase the impact of this project.

Hand Pulling Weeds: The Right Way

By: Ethan Proud, Archuleta County Weed and Pest Supervisor
Kochia Seedling and Root_ethan

While chemical control may be the go-to for many DIY weed managers, mechanical removal is a vital part of a good IPM plan. Hand pulling weeds the right wayMethods for pulling weeds are just as diverse as these invaders’ biology and there is a ‘right’ way to remove weeds based on life cycle.

Growing up, I thought that any plant could be pulled from the ground and that was the end of it. Toss it in the garbage and it wouldn’t be making another appearance. Then I began working at the Sublette County Weed and Pest in Pinedale, Wyoming and found out just how wrong I was. Seeds persist in the soil for years, decades, and even centuries. Many perennial species spread asexually, and a root fragment or piece of a stem containing meristematic cells is all it needs to root and regrow. Field bindweed, a common garden invader has an extensive root system with starch storage organs called tubers that allow it to survive even the most aggressive mowing and pulling regiments.

With that in mind, it is possible to hand-pull your property to a weed free state-so long as you do it correctly. First identify the plant. This may involve taking a sample to one of the many local resources who would be more than happy to lend a helping hand. To determine whether or not you can pull a weed, sometimes you have to pull it. If it fragments before you find the fibrous adventitious roots, it is more than likely a perennial plant that spreads through rhizomes or stolons and should not be pulled. If you can get the root out in one piece, more than likely that plant is a good candidate for being plucked and bagged or burned. Annual plants such as cheatgrass and kochia can be pulled or mowed (using a bagging mower to prevent spreading seeds-or better yet mow before seeds have matured). Biennial plants such as musk thistle, common mullein, and hounds tongue may be pulled as well. Biennials usually feature a thick tap root and may prove difficult to pull. By severing beneath the root crown with a shovel or spade, regrowth from the root can be prevented. Generally four to six inches beneath the soil will suffice.  When pulling plants always wear leather or gardening gloves as some plants may have spines or are poisonous to the touch.

So how do you control a perennial species? Great question and the best answer is herbicides or biocontrols utilizing an integrated pest management plan. If neither of those options are viable or you disagree as a landowner with using chemicals or releasing insect or plant pathogens that is your choice and those are not the only options. Tillage is effective on Russian knapweed, though it will have to be done several times a year, for at least two growing seasons. Solarization can be used on species such as field bindweed, though it will result in a large plastic tarp on your property for two seasons. Mowing can be done as well, though it will have to be repeated monthly or bimonthly. Noxious weed eradication is a lofty goal, but containment, suppression, and prevention of spread are all acceptable when it comes to management.

Defense! Defense! NCAA Basketball and Buckthorn


By: Holly Buss, PlayCleanGo Partner, Burnsville, MN.

Can you guess which defensive tactic the 2019 NCAA Champions and the city of Burnsville, Minnesota used against their most demanding opponents? I can give you one clue; teams use it to restrict their opponent’s ability to gain possession on either side of the court.

europeanbuckthorn-r1Oh, March Madness! With the 2019 NCAA tournament championship just days behind us, two teams competed against their most powerful opponents on the court. However, there’s another team that’s still competing against their toughest weedy opponent, Buckthorn. How will Burnsville, Minnesota go toe-to-toe against this rival?

Their game plan will be very similar to the term used in basketball – it’s a full-court press! Defined as a press employed in basketball on both halves of the court; and, an all-out effort or offensive – Check out how Burnsville, Minnesota strived to defeat, Buckthorn in their full court press:

On the residential side of the court:

You have the Natural Resource Department in Burnsville who teams up with residents to keep buckthorn off the court.  Residents are coached on how to identify, remove and replace buckthorn. In the last five summers, over 200 residents have volunteered to learn how to win the buckthorn battle.

In the last three years, residential teammates have taken advantage of Burnsville’s free curb-side pick-up.  Residents cut down the buckthorn, place it on their curb and the city does the rest. Over 1,200 cubic yards have been removed from residential courts since 2016 which is equal to approximately 122,805 basketballs for the NCAA Champions to dunk.

Burnsville scores more points by allowing residential players to toss their buckthorn directly into the city’s private compost site.  In addition, the Natural Resource Department motivates players to use native plants as replacement plantings by bringing five native growers to Burnsville.   

On the private side of the court:

Burnsville clinched a $110,000 Conservation Partner Legacy Grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources during the last half of 2018.  They seized 26-buckthorn choked acres and restored them to an oak savanna. In the last minutes of the game, goats got playing time and intentionally fouled the younger buckthorn opponents. In the weed management world this is called conservation grazing!   

Burnsville extends its season further by managing over 1,000 acres, which include four prairies, four wetlands, three woodlands and two oak savannas.  Prescribed burns and mowing outwit the key opponent.

I do not bet on the March Madness bracket, but I do bet on Burnsville’s persistence and off the court against buckthorn.  I am proud to call Burnsville my hometown team because of their full-court press against buckthorn. Call your city and ask them if they have a game plan on how win the buckthorn battle. 

Buckthorn is a major weed problem across Canada and the Northern United States, check with your local invasive species control agencies to find out if you need to be on the offensive for Buckthorn in your neighborhood.

Rep. Spotlight

Michael Katz, PlayCleanGo Advisory Council Representative for Non-Motorized Aquatic Recreation

Michael KatzMichael directs environmental and organizational outreach for Earth River SUP, a community-based inflatable stand up paddle board brand in the DC Capital area.  He joined the PlayCleanGo Advisory Council upon recognizing the importance of bringing invasive species awareness to the paddling (paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing) community.

Michael did his undergrad (Mechanical Engineering) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Masters (Manufacturing Engineering) at Stanford. He enjoys paddle boarding on the Potomac River, hiking, skiing, and any other excuse to be outdoors.


PlayCleanGo Webinar Series

PlayCleanGo along with NAISMA have launched a new webinar series! These 1-hour webinars will begin at 1:00 p.m. CST, ending with a Q&A session. Be sure to register 

  • April 17th: Catching the "Unicorn:" Using Public, Private and Non-Profit Partnerships to Help Tackle Aquatic Invasive Species. Click here to register.

  • May 15th: Bridging the Gap between Invasive Species Research and Management. Click here to register.

  • June 19th: Boot Brush Stations: Building and Installation. Click here to register.

  • July 17th: How to Achieve Communication Goals for Reducing the Spread of Invasive Species. Click here to register.

Remember, recorded webinars are available for renewed PlayCleanGo Partners.

PlayCleanGo Awareness Week

Help us promote the first official PlayCleanGo Awareness Week, June 1st - 8th, 2019, held in partnership with Don't Move Firewood and Hungry Pests. Check out all the details coming soon. There will be a week’s worth of news, graphics, videos and social posts to share while hosting your own #PlayCleanGoWeek event.

PARTICIPATE IN EVENTS ACROSS THE NATION to raise awareness and take action against the spread of invasive species. Visit HERE for more information on how you can observe the national awareness week. Don't forget to share your event's pictures with a hashtag: #PlayCleanGoWeek!

PlayCleanGo Summit in conjunction with NAISMA Annual Conference

When you think of New York, do images of Times Square or Lake Placid come to mind? Well there’s a whole lot more in the Empire State than that. The 2019 PlayCleanGo Summit, in conjunction with the 2019 NAISMA Annual Conference, will be held at the Saratoga Hilton in Saratoga Springs, NY, September 30 – October 3, 2019.

Saratoga Springs, known as Serachtague, “place of swift water,” is home to many natural springs that have been known for their healing properties for centuries. The springs were sacred to the Mohawks and other Native Americans. To this day, certain springs are believed to have very specific healing properties – from digestive issues to kidney and liver function, to cancer and skin problems.

We hope you’ll not only join us for a tour of the historic springs in Saratoga Spa Park, but also participate in the PlayCleanGo Summit to learn new outreach and communication tools, not to mention going on a stunningly beautiful field trip to see New York fall foliage, cruise on a floating classroom (on a catamaran!) on Lake George in the Adirondacks, visit the Saratoga Historic Battleground (the decisive battle that turned the tides in the Revolutionary War), and learn about the latest, cutting edge research and new technologies for invasive species management. If that isn’t enough to convince you to join us, come see a boot brush station building demo by the Finger Lakes PRISM! Still need something more? Would you like us to print up an 18 x 24” poster of your organization’s PlayCleanGo outreach accomplishments for FREE as part of the Poster Session? Sure, we’ll do that! You just have to come! Deadline to submit your posters will be July 12. Be on the look out for a direct email in the next couple of weeks with more information!

Registration will open by the end of April.  Discount hotel rooms are available now. Please join me for a glass of award-winning local cider, beer or wine and fresh NY apples. See you in Saratoga Springs!

Play Clean Go