Slow the Spread by Sole and Tread!

Wisconsin’s Best Management Practices for Invasive Species

Thomas Boos- WDNR Forestry Invasive Plant Coordinator

You may be a forester, arborist, landscaper, utility worker, hunt, bird watch, bike, hike or drive an all-terrain vehicle.   It doesn’t matter, whether walking or riding through city parks or remote natural areas, you may be unknowingly collecting the seeds of invasive plants, insects or diseases on your footwear and vehicle tires. They can then be transferred to wherever your feet and vehicle go.

To avoid transporting terrestrial invasive species:

  • Keep a small, stiff-bristled brush in your vehicle, home and/or backpack. Before traveling through natural areas, inspect and brush your footwear clean of caked-on soil and seeds. A small screwdriver may be handy for prying mud from deep treads. This should also be done during the course of a hike if you knowingly walk through an area of heavy invasive species infestation.
  • Many nature preserves in Wisconsin are installing ‘boot brush stations’ at entry points. Read the informational signs and use the boot brush!
  • Regularly inspect and remove caked-on soil and seeds from vehicle tires after off-road travel. Spray tires down with high-pressure water or at least use a broom to brush off loose debris.

Wisconsin faces an onslaught of invasive species from other regions and countries. These non-native plants, animals and pathogens displace native species, disrupt ecosystems, and harm recreational activities such as fishing, boating and hiking. They also damage commercial, agricultural, and water resources.

Because they lack the predators and competitors they faced in their homelands, invasive species can spread rapidly and aggressively. Controlling invasive species is difficult and costly and getting rid of them is sometimes unlikely. People play a major role in spreading invasive species; but can also help keep them from spreading!

In 2006, the Wisconsin Council on Forestry identified invasive species as the largest threat facing our natural lands and subsequently formed the Forest Invasives Leadership Team (FILT) to initiate the development of voluntary Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Invasive Species.  As a result, four BMP tracks were created to address the issue of invasive species in Wisconsin’s forests, including: Forestry BMPs, Recreation BMPs, Urban Forestry BMPs, and Transportation and Utility Rights-of-Way BMPs.

To address each track, four Advisory Committees were formed with over 75 individuals representing the forest industry, urban environments, utilities, recreation organizations, agencies, and environmental groups to develop the Best Management Practices to limit the further spread and introduction of invasive plants, invertebrates, and diseases.

The overall goal of the BMP Advisory Committees has been to develop a broad set of voluntary practices to increase awareness of invasive species by individual user groups and identify how their behavior can minimize the further introduction and spread of invasive species.

Although the specific language may change, the message should remain the same.  Our goal has been to develop a set of guidelines that address issues common to all outdoor activities whether harvesting a timber stand, mowing a right-of-way, pruning a boulevard tree, or hiking through a state park we can all Slow the Spread by Sole and Tread!

For more information go to or contact Thomas Boos at (608) 266-9276, or email at