Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Take measures to prevent spread of invasive species while enjoying nature


Posted May 04, 2013 @ 07:21 PM

When it comes to preventing the spread of invasive species, people who love the outdoors should take steps to be sure they are not part of the problem.

Many invasive species — defined as plants and animals that can cause economic and ecological harm — crowd out native species and can be difficult to control.

Chris Evans, invasive species campaign coordinator with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said people need to learn to identify invasive species and help prevent their spread.

“One thing they can do is familiarize themselves with the invasives,” Evans said. “Learn what is in your area.”
One example is Japanese stilt grass, an annual that is a major invader of forests in southern Illinois.
Evans said the plant is making its way northward, probably because seeds are carried on boots, all-terrain vehicles and even horses.

“We re trying to get people to watch for it,” he said.

Officials in Illinois are keeping a close eye on hydrilla, an aquatic plant.
Photo via Wikipedia:

Hydrilla verticillata collection LakeSeminoleFL.jpg

“It’s not here yet,” Evans said. “But it is pretty abundant south and east and is showing up a few places in the Midwest. It can just dominate in a reservoir or aquatic system.”

It was once sold as an aquarium plant, according to www.protectyourwaters.net.

So great is the threat that a task force has been formed to plan a response should hydrilla appear in Illinois.
Like another invasive aquatic plant, Eurasian water milfoil, it spreads by plant fragments that can hitch a ride on boats.

As temperatures warm and people head outside, Evans said people should clean their shoes and equipment (including boats) before moving from one site to another.

For landowners who don’t know if they have a problem, Evans suggests a visit to a local University of Illinois Extension or U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service office. Local staff members will be familiar with problem plants in your area.

“If they don’t know the answer to your question, they will know who to ask,” Evans said.
Some of the invaders are in the news frequently — the advance of Asian carp is one familiar example. But carp and plants aren’t the only invaders....read more


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