Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP) - to identify and control the invasive plant species that severely impact native biodiversity

MoIP

The Power of Partnerships: How Hard Work Plus Some Social Media Spread the Word about Invasive Callery Pear

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On September 28, hard work on the part of Missouri Invasive Plant (MoIP) Task Force members culminated in a successful day. MU cut down a callery pear tree and became the first official signer of the MoIP Task Force Pledge to Stop the Spread of Invasive Species. You can read the whole story here.

In addition to the dozens of people attending the ceremony, MoIP, the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and others helped spread the word online.

Here are the results of that concentrated effort, from MoIP’s social media accounts.

 

MU CAFNR kicked it off in real-time.

A few minutes later, Carol Davit’s photos made it onto Instagram.

This post reached 470 accounts and was seen 698 times.

An Instagram story serialized the morning via 6 photos, along with text about our mission. Instagram stories were seen 76-116 times depending on the individual story (views were enhanced by location tagging and hashtags).

One Instagram story prompted a private message from a flower grower working on a tree ordinance for the City of Springfield that’s looking to address some invasive species issues (especially with the Callery Pear). She wanted our moinvasives email address to discuss someone to talk to to make sure their work is in line with what we are doing.

In total, we made 1,216 impressions last week on Twitter.

And then Carol’s photos were on Twitter…

MU got in on the action with a Retweet:

Which earned 12,000+ impressions

Lately, average MoIP Twitter impressions range between 75 to 250, so this is huge.

And of course, Facebook had to get in on the action. This link to our blog post reached nearly 1,800 people, earned 99 engagements (clicks, likes, hearts) 9 shares, and 24 link clicks.

Mizzou Botanic Garden Cuts Down Pear Tree & Takes the Pledge to Stop the Spread of Invasive Plants

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Mizzou Botanic Garden Cuts Down Pear Tree & Takes the Pledge to Stop the Spread of Invasive Plants

Mizzou Botanic Garden Cuts Down Pear Tree & Takes the Pledge to Stop the Spread of Invasive Plants

The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force, a resource of the Grow Native! program, invites communities, campuses, businesses and other entities to follow Mizzou Botanic Garden’s example and take the pledge to control the spread invasive species on their property.

Jefferson City, MO (September 28, 2018)—This morning, the first of eight Callery pear trees on the Columbia campus of the University of Missouri was cut down—not by vandals, but by university officials. During the invasive plant awareness and educational event, officials not only removed the invasive, non-native tree, but also signed a pledge signaling the Mizzou Botanic Garden’s continued commitment to control other invasive plant species on campus. The remaining seven trees will be removed the week of Oct. 1, 2018.

            “These pear trees, located in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) courtyard, were planted in 1998 as part of the landscaping for the new Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building for their profusion of spring blossoms and brilliant fall foliage,” said Pete Millier, Director of Mizzou Botanic Garden, a designation for the campus. “Now, however, we know better,” said Millier, “and the Mizzou Botanic Garden is committed to stopping the spread of this pretty but highly invasive tree and other non-native invasive plants that threaten native biodiversity and are problematic for farmers and other landowners. We are proud to have taken this step, and to be the first entity in the state to have signed the Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force pledge to stop the spread of invasive species.” For more than two years, Mizzou Botanic Garden has carried out other invasive plant projects, including the removal of five Callery pear trees at the Memorial Union, replacing them with non-invasive trees, and the organization of a mass bush honeysuckle/winter creeper removal along a portion of Flat Branch Creek.

“Mizzou Botanic Garden is to be commended for publicly demonstrating its dedicated effort to stopping the spread of invasive plants,” said Carol Davit, Executive Director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, the nonprofit conservation organization and land trust that operates the Grow Native! program, and serves as Chair of the program’s Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP), a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency group working as a united front to foster greater statewide early detection and control of invasive plants. “We invite other educational institutions, corporate campuses, municipalities, neighborhood associations, and other entities to take the pledge as well to signal their commitment to joining the fight to control invasive plants and mitigate the serious threats they pose.”

MoIP Task Force members developed the pledge with a number of benefits in mind. First, it lets the stakeholders of a campus, business, community, or other entity who may be concerned with invasive plants on that property know that the entity, by taking the pledge, has committed to developing a plan and dedicating resources to the control of invasive plant species. Second, it helps stakeholders understand that controlling invasive plants on that property will take time. Additionally, when a community or other entity lets its stakeholders know it has signed the pledge, it provides an opportunity for stakeholders to get involved in the effort.

“Invasive plants are serious threats to Missouri’s native ecosystems, as well as many native plants and animals, the built environment, and many facets of the state’s economy, including cattle production, the timber industry, and many aspects of outdoor recreation, including fishing and hunting industries,” said Davit. “Missouri will control invasive species only with the concerted efforts of many entities, including private citizens working together. Our state is a long-time, nationwide leader in natural resource conservation, and by leading in invasive plant control as well, we can further safeguard Missouri’s habitats, fish, wildlife, and other cherished aspects of our natural heritage.”

            Entities wishing to sign the pledge may do so via a Google form available at www.moinvasives.org. The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP) can also provide a pledge document suitable for signing ceremonies and framing. Many resources on the identification and control of invasive plants, including native alternatives to invasive plants, are available from MoIP as well.

2nd Annual Invasive Species Day at Missouri State Fair 2018

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The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP) had a great time at the MO State Fair on Friday, August 10! We were thrilled to be among other important organizations participating in last week’s invasive species collaboration/education event. Thank you to the steady stream of people who came to learn about invasive species causing economic or environmental harm in Missouri.

This Facebook Live video by MDC is a tad choppy, but it captures the essence of the collaboration!

Photos by Nate Muenks and Tina Casagrand:

MDC, MoDOT, Missouri Prairie Foundation collaborate on Invasive Species Strike Team

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Click here to listen to the KRCU interview with MoIP vice-chair Nate Muenks.

Invasive weeds will no longer have “the right of way” for over 700 miles of southeast Missouri roads.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), and the Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) have partnered to work with contractors to eliminate invasive plants along roadways from the top of Ste. Genevieve County, all the way to the southern border of Missouri. According to Nate Muenks, MDC’s habitat management coordinator, 723 miles of roadways will be spot treated for invasive plants, in a phased approach.

“MDC is thrilled to partner with MoDOT, MPF and the contractors to take this proactive approach against the threat of invasive plants,” Muenks said. “When invasive plants are left to thrive, they choke out native plants. The reduction in native plants can destroy valuable habitat and is very hard on our wildlife populations.”

Of the 723 miles of highway that will be spot treated for invasive plants, 165 miles are along Interstate 55. The other 558 miles are along roadways connecting to the Interstate, all near or in Conservation Opportunity Areas (COA). COAs are geographical areas where broad conservation goals are best met. MDC, with the help of conservation partners, identifies COAs throughout the state where investments in the prioritized areas can increase the likelihood of long-term success, maximize effectiveness over large landscapes, improve funding efficiency and promote cooperative efforts with other agencies for benefits that cross property lines.

Muenks said MDC, MoDOT, MPF and the contractors all see the value in working together to combat the prolific spread of invasive plants.

“Our roadways are a major traveling corridor, for not only public transportation but also in the spread of invasive weeds,” said Mark Aufdenberg, a MoDOT roadside manager. “It’s surprising how invasive seeds are spread through vehicle movement, so if we can treat our roadways and stop them before they go onto other properties and conservation areas, that’s a good thing.”

Aufdenberg said the cooperative project supplements MoDOT roadside management and allows MoDOT employees to focus more time on maintaining roadway surfaces and safety.

“Having the help from contractors and other agencies is a big benefit to us,” Aufdenberg said. “We don’t want to give invasive weeds the right of way.”

Aufdenberg said the contractors will not broadcast spray herbicides across the entire roadsides, but will instead spot-spray, targeting only the invasive plants.

“This targeted, specific approach will protect the good plants, while targeting the bad,” he said.

MPF agrees that the state’s roadways provide connectivity across the state, and not just for people. The MPF is a private, nonprofit, conservation organization with a mission to protect and restore prairies and other native grasslands, some of the most biologically diverse habitats in the state.

“We’re very concerned with the control of invasive species on the property we own and we’re very pleased to work in partnership with MDC, MoDOT and the other entities involved in this project,” said Carol Davit, MPF’s executive director. “Invasive plants pose real environmental and economic threats to our state, and collaboration is key in this fight.”

Davit said the project is also important because the work is happening in highly trafficked areas.

“Because this work is very visible along the roadways, we hope to inspire Missourians, and travelers in general, to be vigilant and take action against invasive plants on their own property as well,” Davit said.

Aufdenberg asks drivers in southeast Missouri to watch out for the contractors as they work along the roadways. Drivers will see large, orange, diamond shaped signs that say, “Invasive Plant Strike Team” where workers are spraying.

“Please slow down and give them some room as they work,” Aufdenberg said. “Safety is most important in our roadside projects.”

Muenks said MDC can help private landowners who want to eliminate invasive plants and improve wildlife habitat on their land. More information for landowners is available atwww.mdc.mo.gov/property.

Drivers will see work along 723 miles of roadways as Missouri’s cooperative Invasive Species Strike Team works to spot treat invasive plants. This proactive approach will protect the good plants while targeting the ones that don’t belong in the region. (MDC photo)

“Plant This, Not That!” Posters Now Available

“Plant This, Not That! Native Missouri Trees to Plant Instead of Invasive Callery/Bradford Pear” is an 11-poster set (title page + 10 species) inspired by the “Stop the Spread” campaign and designed by Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force. Now available in the following formats:

Why Not Callery Pear? Title Poster for “Plant This, Not That!” series

Awards given for fighting invasive plants, increasing native habitat

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Awards given for fighting invasive plants, increasing native habitat
Left to right: Laura Hillman, Allison Vaughn, Bill Mees, and John Besser accepted the 2018 Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement Award on behalf of Columbia Audubon Society at a ceremony on Wednesday, April 25. The awards were designed by Columbia glass artist Susan Taylor Glasgow. Photo by Nancy Bedan.

– by Nancy Bedan, on Columbia Audubon Society website

At a ceremony on April 25, the City of Columbia recognized the Columbia Audubon Society (CAS) for its work in habitat restoration at the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary (CANS) and for its community outreach and education programs. Eight organizations and businesses received the 2018 Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement Award, an honor created in 2014 to recognize businesses and organizations that excel in sustainable practices and promote a culture of environmental responsibility. Both CAS and the Columbia Public Schools Science Department received awards in the Environmental Stewardship category. The CAS citation (view a short video here) read:

“For their countless efforts to restore and protect the environment through community outreach and educational opportunities, the Columbia Audubon Society has earned a 2018 Environmental Stewardship Award. By providing a beautiful landscape for visitors and increasing native habitat for a variety of pollinators, they have made a lasting impact on our community.”

The CPS Science Department, under the leadership of Mike Szydlowski, was honored for surpassing its goal of removing one million invasive bush honeysuckle plants and for collecting long-term plant diversity data…

Read the full story here.

Missouri Noxious Weed Law – Not Right for Callery Pear

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When the Missouri Department of Conservation posted about stopping the spread of Callery pear, there were several good questions and comments about legal ramifications for distributing invasive plants. We will address some of them here.

 

“If Callery pear trees are a problem, why are they sold at almost all home stores?”

It is not illegal to sell Callery pear. While many small nurseries are aware of the problem and no longer carry Callery cultivars, large stores with national purchasing programs still stock Callery on their sales floor.

The only Missouri law concerning invasive plants is the Noxious Weed Law 263.190, which identifies only 12 species of plants. Most of those species are commonly known to threaten agricultural land.

The Noxious Weed Law comes with two legal mandates:

  • Noxious weeds may not be sold.
  • Landowners must control and/or eradicate these particular weeds.

Since Callery pears are planted on countless lawns and landscapes, the second mandate would require all private homeowners to cut down their pear trees. That would be highly unpopular. Plus, there aren’t enough resources to enforce the law.

Failure to comply with the Noxious Weed Law is a misdemeanor. County prosecutors enforce it.

 

“Ban the things. Other states do. They cannot be shipped there.”

Currently, adding a plant to the Noxious Weed Law list requires review and approval by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

However, to create a new designation of plants that are banned from sale (and not require landowners to control) would require changing statutes through the legislative process.

The State of Ohio recently passed new legislation that bans the sale of 30+ species of known invasive plants (read law here). Missouri agencies are aware of the legislation. The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force is currently reviewing the spread of invasive species statewide in order to make research-based recommendations regarding new rules.

 

“Could the USDA be petitioned to stop the sale?”

We prefer to educate the public rather than pursue top-down measures.

 

“What can I do to stop the spread?”

Spread something else: spread the word! Tell the story about how ornamental pears are cross-breeding with cousins, and how it’s becoming a big problem for roadways, empty fields, and other landscapes in Missouri. Contact your city officials, legislators, and governor, to express your thoughts on Callery pear and other invasive species. Advocate for solutions at all levels of your community.

About Noxious Weed Law, from the Missouri Department of Agriculture

The State of Missouri has designated twelve weed species as noxious.

Weeds on this list are designated as such because they can cause economic harm to the state’s agriculture industry and because of the high level of difficulty associated with controlling or eradicating the species. For more information visit Noxious Weed Control (http://agriculture.mo.gov/plants/ipm/noxiousweeds.php)