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

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2nd Annual Invasive Species Day at Missouri State Fair 2018

by Tina Casagrand 0 Comments

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

by Tina Casagrand 0 Comments
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

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.

Western Governors List 50 Worst Invasive Species

by Tina Casagrand 0 Comments
Invasive species pose an enormous environmental challenge to western states and
territories. Western Governors have experienced first-hand how these invaders
affect the region’s forests and rangelands, water, and agriculture. Left unchecked,
invasive species permanently alter ecosystems and negatively impact the native
species and local economies that depend upon them.

Read more and see the list from the Western Governor’s Association.

Requiem for a Bradford Pear

by Tina Casagrand 0 Comments

This shows where the Bradford pear limb broke off from the trunk and apparently other limbs broke from the same area previously. South St. Louis, 2017.

originally published in Outdoor Living, Summer 2014

by Margo Farnsworth

I had inherited my much longed for older sister’s bedroom.  It was a garret-like space that opened into our dusty, but neatly arranged attic with oversized attic fan serving as both focal point and cooling system in the early 1960’s. Here too, was the board where my chalk smudged seven-year-old fingers laid out my future farm.  Lots of horses with paddocks to the west of the house and long southern pastures in the fore were carefully drawn.  The front drive would, of course, be Bradford pears lined up two-by-two all the way to the street.

I was raised on a love of Bradford pears.  Originally sent from China to Europe, their snowy spring dresses came to adorn landscapes in all the most fashionable business parks beginning in the ‘50s.  As subdivisions became popular, so too were these orderly, oval-topped sentries planted throughout neighborhood entries and parks alike.  Their march toward omnipresence had begun.  

As time passed, years of dust settled on the chalkboard with the drawing of my farm.  Bradford pears advanced their hold on whole communities as I was building a career and raising a family.  No horticulturalist, I had not studied the darker side of the pernicious pear.  As I grew, those first pears started to disintegrate in storms.  “Break-away” pears we labeled them as we began to recognize they were neither strong nor long-lived, have lives of usually less than 25 years, with their demise commonly arriving after only 15 to 20 years.

Then, Douglas Tallamy added a tombstone for all of the cultivars of the Callery pear including the Bradford, Cleveland and handful of others.  His studies revealed how poor these trees are in hosting food sources for birds and other wildlife. In a talk for the Missouri Prairie Foundation, Tallamy discussed computations that a single family of chickadee babies will devour 9,000 caterpillars on their way to adulthood.  Those caterpillars like oak trees and other natives – Bradford pears, not so much.

As I wrote this article I contemplated the double row of Cleveland pears the former owners planted on my farm with a rueful smile.  They have fire blight and all must be removed.  I cannot blame myself or you for all the lacy ladies, those Bradford pears planted across our country.  We only went where we were led.  But I can pledge a new allegiance to serviceberry, redbuds and other native trees for beauty along my drive and food in the bellies of birds.  And when a grandchild uses my old chalkboard, I’ll teach them well about the shallow pleasures of a pretty face or flower alone.  Our landscape’s beauty is made of more substantial stuff.  

About the writer: Margo Farnsworth is a writer, biomimicry instructor and Fellow for the Biomimicry Institute. She invites readers into nature, offering strategic ways to live with wild neighbors through biomimicry and other practical methods.  Her work has appeared in the book Wildness: Relations of People & Place along with magazines such as The New Territory, EarthLines, TreeHugger and numerous blogs.

Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri Honeysuckle Work Day

by Tina Casagrand 2 Comments

Green Belt Land Trust wants to let you know about an opportunity to do some good work and help out a conservation easement landowner by clearing invasive honeysuckle on Saturday, November 11th, from 10AM to noon.

They will be led by Fred Young, honeysuckle exterminator extraordinaire, and Greenbelt will provide the necessary equipment.  However, if you have your own loppers and work gloves, feel free to bring those, too!

Please RSVP by emailing mpowell[at]greenbeltmissouri.org, and he will send you information on where to meet.