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Good News for 2020: Individuals and Groups Recognized for Invasive Plant Action in Missouri

by Tina Casagrand

Contact: Tina Casagrand, 417-299-1794, [email protected]


Good News for 2020: Individuals and Groups Recognized for Invasive Plant Action in Missouri

Awards program of the Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force recognizes exemplary work in invasive plant early detection and control. 

JEFFERSON CITY (November 12, 2019)—As public awareness grows about the harmful effects of invasive plants, the Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP) recognized two individuals and one group in Missouri who have exhibited outstanding work controlling invasive plants on property across the state.


2020 Invasive Plant Action Award for Individual Citizen: Jason Bryan

MoIP members chose Boone County landowner Jason Bryan as the recipient of the Individual Citizen award. “Like most landowners I deal with, Jason was interested in managing his property for better wildlife habitat to increase deer and turkey use, but most importantly he wanted to leave the property in better shape that it currently was,” Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Private Land Conservationist Ryan Lueckenhoff wrote in his nomination. He noted that multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei `Coloratus’) and bush honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii and Lonicera x bella) were common through the wooded areas on the property, and they were getting worse. On one rocky outcrop, Lueckenhoff says, “Bush honeysuckle was so thick that you could not see from the top of the hillside through to the bottom and little to no wildlife were using the area.” He worked with Bryan to develop a 10-year plan for the property, with invasive species removal at the top of the list. The Bryan family started removing invasive plants the first year and have seen incredible success, with new visibility and returned wildlife.

hillside after invasive honeysuckle treatment

Hillside in which honeysuckle was covering the rock faces, which are in the background. Sixty percent of honeysuckle had a 4-7’’ base. Bryan used a hack and squirt method to treat the invasive plants and anticipates needing to follow up with spraying new shoots in a year. Photo provided by Jason Bryan.

Members of MoIP have gathered resources, tools, and guides that help landowners understand, assess, and manage invasive and exotic plants  commonly found in Missouri, including those found on Bryan’s property. Lueckenhoff added that Bryan understands the importance of follow-up treatments. “His commitment to this removal effort has been awesome to see!”


2020 Invasive Plant Action Award for Individual Professional: Roger Frazier

MDC and MoDOT crews on right of way

Spearheading the development of the Southeast Missouri Region Invasive Species Strike Team is just one of Roger Frazier’s invasive plant accomplishments. Photo provided by Jan Dellamano.

MoIP is proud to present MDC Priority Habitat Coordinator Roger Frazier with the Individual Professional award. “Roger Frazier has a long history of supporting Conservation for all the right reasons,” writes MDC private land services chief Jason Jensen in his nomination. “For him, it is not just a job, and not even just a profession; it is his passion and his lifelong commitment to protect, conserve, and serve Missouri’s Natural Heritage. But putting all that aside, we are nominating him for this award because of his recent efforts that have gone way beyond even what the most demanding of us would call above and beyond.”

Among Frazier’s invasive plant success stories are: 

  • developing the Southeast Missouri Region Invasive Species Strike Team. Notable for acting early on preventing several invasive plants (primarily common teaselDipsacus fullonum; cutleaf teaselDipsacus laciniatus; and spotted knapweedCentaurea stoebe) from spreading throughout the Southeast region, thus protecting Conservation Opportunity Areas. Frazier worked closely and tirelessly with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to manage highway right of ways for preventing the species’ spread.
  • serving as a member of MDC’s Invasive Species Coordination Team since its inception.
  • helping to start and secure funding for the Scenic Rivers Invasive Species Partnership, and
  • working with the City of Farmington and AmeriCorps on the Engler Park Eradication project.

Furthermore, Frazier’s duties as Priority Habitat Coordinator have kept him continually engaged with both MDC and Natural Resources Conservation Service staff on invasive species management on private land. “For those of us that work alongside Roger, even these words do not fully express the level of commitment and contribution Roger has made towards true invasive species management in Missouri,” Jensen writes.


2020 Invasive Plant Action Award for Group Collaboration: Jason Jensen, Jan Dellamano, Roger Frazier, Chris Rutledge, Mark Auffenberg, and Tony Jaco

mule vehicle and spraying invasives on roadside

Two state agencies and a nonprofit organization are engaged in a long-term project to address the growing problem of invasive plant spread on highway rights-of-ways. Photo provided by Chris Rutledge.

This group collaboration started in 2007 as a grassroots effort led by Jan Dellamano and the local MoDOT shed. Over the years, it has transformed into a long-term commitment to address the growing problem of invasive plant spread on highway rights-of-ways (ROW). This effort has been effective in stopping the spread of extremely invasive plants such as spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe L. subsp. micranthos) and teasel (Dipsacus fullonum L. and D. laciniatus)

This project has had many facets including conceptualizing, planning, gaining and developing administrative and budgetary support, equipment, and implementation on the ground.  All of this occurred with the cooperation of two state agencies (MDC and MoDOT), and a nonprofit organization, the Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF). (MPF is excluded from the award, due to the nature of MoIP’s being housed under MPF’s Grow Native! program). 

I drive I-55 between Cape Girardeau to St. Louis with regularity, and I can see a clear difference between areas impacted by this arrangement and those that have no such treatment,” writes Tony Jaco, Southeast Regional Administrator for MDC, in his nomination. “I have witnessed a decline of teasel, sericia lespedeza, autumn olive, and spotted knapweed. This impacts the area treated with herbicides specifically, but it has a larger reach as the mowing equipment used by MODOT will not have carry as much seed debris from invasives which leads to spread of the invasives. It also benefits the watersheds I-55 touches because seed stock will not be flowing down stream to infect new properties.”

This pilot program has caught on and is being considered and/ or replicated in other parts of the state. 


The Action Awards seek to demonstrate how controlling the spread of  invasive plants on Missouri farms, forests, woodlands, prairies, gardens, roadsides and along waterways is wise stewardship. A recommendation by a natural resource professional is required to be eligible. Members of MoIP evaluate nominations. “There are many individuals and groups carrying out impressive invasive plant control in every corner of the state,” says Carol Davit, chair of MoIP and executive director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation. “We want to recognize those doing exemplary work and present them with an aware at an event of the awardee’s choice to be honored in front of their peers.”

By definition, invasive plants are those not native to a region whose abundance and/or rapid spread  harm economic and environmental resources. For more information on the awards program, please visit https://moinvasives.org/moip-invasive-plant-action-awards/


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The Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP) is a resource of Grow Native!—a 19-year-old native plant marketing and education program serving the lower Midwest. Grow Native! is administratively housed by the nonprofit Missouri Prairie Foundation. For more information about MoIP, visit www.moinvasives.org, email [email protected] or call 417-299-1794; for more on the Grow Native! program at grownative.org or for more on the Missouri Prairie Foundation visit moprairie.org.

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

by MoIP 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)