Group Takes Aim At Exotic Invasives
Founding members of the Monroe County Identify and Reduce Invasive Species group. From left, members are Robert Woodling of the Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District, Spencer Goehl of EcoLogic, Rex Watters of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources — Monroe Reservoir, Steve Cotter of Bloomington Parks and Recreation, Cathy Meyer of Monroe County Parks and Recreation, homeowner Barb Seal, John Lawrence of Sycamore Land Trust, Heather Reynolds of Indiana University’s Biology Department and Ellen Jacquart of The Nature Conservancy. Photo by Wes Kocher. MC-IRIS has been awarded the Partner Group of the Year plaque from the Southern IN CWMA!!
MC-IRIS wants to wipe out alien plants that spread
HeraldTimesOnline.comBy Carol Kugler [email protected] |
June 14, 2009
Giving voice to the problems faces with has led to the formation of a new group, Monroe County Identify and Reduce Invasive Species, or MC-IRIS.
“We had a meeting for anyone interested in starting a group to address invasive species in Monroe County,” said Ellen Jacquart, director of stewardship with . Since then, the group’s founders have met twice more to set the mission and partners and to determine what specific projects to focus on.
The group’s beginnings came from the countless times people from various public agencies and not-for-profits met and asked why there wasn’t a group such as MC-IRIS to deal with the growing problem of invasive plants and animals, Jacquart said.
“We are primarily focused on plants, and the reason for that is when taking action and doing something, private owners can do something about invasive plants,” Jacquart said.
Rex Watters, wildlife specialist with the at Lake Monroe, said most of the MC-IRIS members have been independently attending training sessions on exotics for the past couple of years, noting, “This has been an ongoing issue.”
Watters said some of the MC-IRIS members are “just private citizens who are interested.” Others in the group include members of city and county groups, The Nature Conservancy, Sycamore Land Trust, both the state and federal Fish and Wildlife services and Indiana University.
“It covers many of the entities in the area and it’s intended to be all-inclusive,” Watters said.
“I think it’s a real positive step to start to, first of all, raise awareness to let people know what invasive plant species are doing to our native lands and parks,” said Spencer Goehl of EcoLogic, an ecological restoration company in Bloomington. “That voice has been missing.”
Goehl said invasive plants are often “incipid,” at first seeming like a good, healthy plant that grows well, until it reproduces beyond what landowners like and is hard to discourage or kill.
Goehl fears for the native plants in Hoosier forests, both urban and rural. He is hopeful the group will work to save area park lands “because that’s something we all own.”
But MC-IRIS will also help farmers or people with just an acre of land learn how to identify and deal with invasive species.
Early detection and rapid response are needed with invasives, he said. The group hopes to use geographic information systems and GPS technology to map where invasive vegetation is growing to get a feel for the scope of the problem and deal with it before it spreads further.
“We can catch when it gets on your property, just a small outbreak and then take care of it so it’s not so expensive to get,” Goehl said.
He said prevention, detection and a rapid response are key to controlling invasive species. “Just $1 spent on early weed control saves $17 being spent later.”
Stopping invasives at the source is another goal for the group, Goehl said. Talking with nursery and landscape professionals as well as aquatic and pond professionals can help stop many invasive plant species from gaining a foothold in the Hoosier landscape. That may include banning certain plants, he said. Currently, Chicago has 17 plants that are banned from the city, Goehl said.
And losing native plants isn’t the only problem. Goehl said that invasive plants can affect people’s pocketbooks. A good example is kudzu, which is susceptible to soybean rust. If the rust transfers to a farmer’s field, the result can be devastating to a soybean crop, he said.
“If we could take care of our little corner of the world, we’d make a lot of progress,” he said.