Wednesday, July 25, 2007

River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area

July 12, 2007

IDNR Joins Partnership to Address Growing Invasive Species Issues

World trade and travel moves plants around the globe, resulting in the unwanted spread of non-native, potentially harmful plants across the United States including Southern Illinois.

SPRINGFIELD, IL - The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is joining a unique local partnership of 13 state and federal agencies, The Nature Conservancy and Southern Illinois University, called the River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA), are working together to coordinate efforts against invasive species in Southern Illinois.

The CWMA’s mission is to establish a framework for cooperatively addressing the short and long term effects of non-native invasive plants across jurisdictional boundaries within eleven counties: Alexander, Gallatin, Hardin, Jackson, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Williamson and Union.

Numerous non-native invasive species have been identified in Southern Illinois. Plants, like bush honeysuckle, invade woodlands and forests. As a result, they can displace native species, reduce the habitat for native wildlife to thrive, and even prevent tree seedlings from establishing, potentially harming future generations of Southern Illinois oak and hickory forests.

Other species can invade aquatic habitats. The curly-leaved pondweed, for example, is invading lakes and streams, choking out native species and making it difficult for anglers to fish through the thick mats of vegetation. Exotic invasive species are reported to cause over $137 billion of environmental damages and economic losses every year in the United States.

“Most people aren’t aware of the impacts invasive plants are inflicting on our wildlife habitat, fisheries, and native plants,” said IDNR Acting Director Sam Flood. “These plants are choking out and out-competing with our native species. This is a serious problem and probably the greatest conservation challenge of our time.”

The Cooperative Weed Management Area was formed to try to stop this tide of invaders.

“Previously, managers were limited to controlling invasive species on their own property and if the infestation spread to an adjacent land, you had to stop controlling at the boundary,” said IDNR regional administrator Jody Shimp. “Now, through the River to River CWMA partnership, we can work together to take the steps necessary to get the invaders under control, on both sides of the fence.”

The CWMA is trying to reach out to everyone in Southern Illinois.

“Many people recognize the problem of invasive species, but don’t realize that they can help out,” says CWMA Coordinator Chris Evans. “We want to work with these folks and anyone else in the area on how best to battle these invasive plants.”

What are some ways to help with the fight against invasive species? Here are a few suggestions from the CWMA:

Control invasive species on your land. Begin as soon as you find an invader. Controlling small infestations is more effective and economical than trying to control a well-established, rapidly spreading infestation.

Know your plants. Find out which plants cause problems in parks or natural areas in your region to know which species to avoid.

Use non-invasive alternatives. Many of the worst invaders are still being sold at nurseries. Ask a nursery about non-invasive plant alternatives. Native plants often have similar characteristics to invasives without the damaging ecological side effects.

Don’t spread invasive species. The tiny seeds of many invaders can hitch a ride on hiker’s shoes, angler’s boats, or even the tires of your bicycle. If you go into an area with invasive species, clean off all soil or plant matter from your equipment and clothes before leaving.

Don’t empty aquariums or dump houseplants into the wild. Some of the worst invaders started off as exotic ornamental plants.

Volunteer with local natural resource agencies to control invasive species. The time and services generously donated by volunteers are an important part of the fight against invasive species.
Spread the word! Tell a neighbor about invasive species.

To find out more about invasive species or the Cooperative Weed Management Area, contact Chris Evans at 618-998-5920 or


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