Thursday, 15 November 2018

Why Are Invasives So Bad?

photo of Phragmites also called common reed grass.

Phragmites creates stands so dense that wildlife cannot move though it.

For the past year, I have been fielding questions about conservation, biology and invasive species on the forum Quora. It gives me a chance to hear the questions and concerns that people have and give back to the community. Questions I think Conservation Digest readers might be interested in have found their way into the FAQ section of this website.

This question appeared last week. Below is my response. After reading it, I hope you see what motivated me to create the website and write this blog.

Invasive garlic mustard, honeysuckle and buckthorn have all but wiped out spring wildflowers from the woodlands of southern Wisconsin. Japanese knotweed crowds out everything along stream banks where it becomes established. Wild parsnip causes serious chemical burns when the sap gets onto the skin. Cattails take over wetlands reducing open water for waterfowl and displacing the native sedge, reeds and wetland wildflowers. Phragmites (common reed) creates such dense stands that waterfowl cannot use the wetland.

Those four sentences capture a small portion of the problems caused by invasive plants that plague natural areas in Wisconsin. They only begin to scratch the surface of the issues created by invasive species.

Check out our new webpage About Invasive Species to learn more about the problem and how to prevent new invaders from getting a foothold in Wisconsin.

September 2018

Friday, 14 September 2018

Birdsfoot Treefoil Best Managed in October

 

Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) is a low-growing, perennial broadleaf plant native to Eurasia and North Africa. It was introduced into the United States for erosion control and livestock forage and is still sold commercially. Birdsfoot trefoil is invasive in Wisconsin. Birdsfoot trefoil is found along roadsides, and in waste areas, fields, prairies, wildlife openings, and open disturbed areas. It tolerates a variety of soil types including dry, moist, hardpan or droughty soils.

Picture of Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus).

Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) starts growing early in the spring and stays green after native plants have gone dormant.

Identification

A recent edition of the TechLine Invasive Plant News provides the following description of Birdsfoot trefoil. [It] “is in the legume family and produces stems up to two feet in length. Leaves are alternate and compound with five oval to linear leaflets. The plant flowers from May to August, when clusters of yellow, pea-like flowers develop. Fruits are pods that occur in head-like clusters with each pod containing up to 49 seeds.” It has a taproot that can reach three feet deep. There are also secondary roots, rhizomes, and modified stems (stolons) near the soil surface.

Concern

Birdsfoot trefoil outcompetes native prairie and savannah plants because of its dense root system, long growing season and multiple ways of spreading. It reproduces by seeds, and spreads laterally by stolons and rhizomes. Because it is a legume, birdsfoot trefoil increases soil nitrogen unfavorable for native plants. It is especially invasive in new restoration sites.

Management

Birdsfoot trefoil can be effectively controlled with Milestone® specialty herbicide at 5 to 7 fluid ounces per acre (fl oz/A). Field trials conducted by Dr. Mark Renz, University of Wisconsin found that Milestone at 7 fl oz/A provided good to excellent control in either June or October. It was significantly better than Transline® specialty herbicide at 1 pint per acre applied in June (Figure 1). Milestone applied at 5 fl oz/A was more effective when applied in October compared to June with similar level of control.

Manually digging plants to remove all root fragments can control small infestations of birdsfoot trefoil. Frequent mowing at a height of two inches for several years may reduce seed production and spread, but will impact desirable vegetation. A predatory insect called trefoil seed chalcid (Bruchophagus kolobovae Fed.) is available but is not good enough to provide significant control. Burning increases seed germination allowing the plant to establish and spread rapidly in areas managed for native prairie.

UW Extension has a fact sheet that contains more information about chemical, as well as other management practices for birdsfoot trefoil.

May 2018

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Palmer Amaranth Alert: Check CRP Seed Mixes

Palmer amaranth can produce 500,000 seeds per plant.

Native to the desert southwest, Palmer amaranth can produce 500,000 seeds per plant and has developed resistance to glyphosate (Roundup).

DATCP Lists Palmer amaranth as Prohibited Noxious Weed 

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer protection (DATCP) recently issued a new emergency rule listing Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) as a prohibited noxious weed seed. Including it in a seed mix will now result in a civil or criminal violation for the seed labeler.

Palmer amaranth is a broadleaf weed that grows 2-3 inches a day. It commonly grows 6-8 feet tall, but may reach 10 feet. This plant has separate male and female plants, and the females may produce as many as 500,000 seeds. 

Though native to southwestern states, it became established in the southeast and began moving north. Pollinator seed mixes that contain Palmer amaranth were sold for use on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio. More than half the counties in Iowa now report the new invader.

Identification

Palmer amaranth is related to water hemp and other “pigweeds”, common in Wisconsin, and a casual observer might confuse the two. The leaf stem on the first true leaves are longer than the leaf blade, where water hemp leaf blades are longer than the leaves. The most obvious difference is the length of the seed heads. Palmer amaranth has seed heads that can be 12 inches or longer. Hence it can produce vastly more seed than its native cousin. Purdue Extension has an excellent video that describes the distinguishing characteristics.

Herbicide Resistance

Strains of Palmer amaranth have developed tolerance for the herbicide glyphosate, making control much more difficult. Farmers in other states started using dicamba but are finding that off target herbicide drift is a real problem for both surrounding crops and natural lands.

Keep In Mind

DATCP has the following advice. If you are planting a pollinator or conservation seed mix:

  • Find out what Palmer amaranth looks like. You can find many clear photos in an online image search.
  • Buy local seed mixes if possible, with no pigweed or amaranth listed on the label.
  • Thoroughly clean equipment after seeding, especially if your seed mix came from out of state.
  • Call your University of Wisconsin-Extension office if you suspect you have found Palmer amaranth.

Follow these tips for conservation planting—without weed seed come from our neighbors at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture:

  • Do not purchase unlabeled seed
  • Check labels—and keep all labels used in a specific planting
  • If restricted noxious weeds are present make sure they’re present at a rate of less than 25 seed per pound
  • Don’t use seed with any prohibited noxious weed seeds
  • Ask seeding contractor for planting records including: seed lots planted in specific locations, planting procedures, site preparation and equipment used with equipment cleanout records
  • Keep invoices and paperwork
 Contact your local Extension agent for the most current information about this and other weed problems on your land.

2017

October 2017

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Bring in the Hit Squad

Picture of young garlic mustard plants.

Young garlic mustard plants are especially easy to treat in the late fall or early spring when native plants are dormant. [Conservation Media, llc]

Are you struggling with tough invasive like garlic mustard and reed canary grass? This is a great time to put a serious hurt on these super species. It is also among the most economical times to get your revenge.

By now, native plants have gone dormant. The landscape should by and large be brown and tan. For landowners, who are battling any number of exotic weed species, the remaining green is a bitter reminder of their problem.

Fortunately, this green also represents a unique opportunity. Since native plants are safely sleeping beneath the soil, landowners are free to use non-selective herbicides that would otherwise harm beneficial plants. Chief among these is glyphosate, which is cheap and highly effective.

Those living plants that are sprayed now will either be killed outright or severely weakened so that they are unable to survive the stress of winter. By contrast, application made in spring or summer might stress but not kill something like reed canary grass, which could substantially recover before the arrival of winter.

Glyphosate is short lived, breaking down in the soil in just a couple weeks. This means that wildflowers and native grasses that emerge in the spring will be unaffected by fall spraying.

I still avoid broadcast spraying in most situations because it is wasteful. Spot spraying is way easier when your green target weeds stand out so well. This tactic is especially useful in situations where weeds are scattered among more rate native plants I want to protect.

Depending on weather, this window can be short. Snow and hard freezes will force even hearty weeds into dormancy. Herbicides tend to be more readily taken up on warm sunny fall days. 

Herbicide needs to be part of an integrated weed management approach that includes management tools like controlled fire, cover crops and mowing. As always, follow label directions to minimize the amount of chemical used while making sure it will do its job.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

EPA Awards $2.7M for WI Weed Control

Picture of Lake Michigan beach with trees, dune grass and shrubs.

Lake Michigan’s magnificent shoreline faces huge challenges.

The EPA announced that it has awarded 2.7 million dollars to five Wisconsin groups to help control invasive plants in the state. The grants are part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium will receive $600,000 to implement a multi-organization collaboration to control the spread of invasive species along 2,000 miles of roadways and more than 600 acres of woodland habitat. The collaboration will include local government roadway crews, property owners, community-based organizations and school groups.

Picture of someone spraying herbicide on a tree stump.

Volunteer treats freshly cut stump sapwood with Garlon 4 to prevent the tree from re-sprouting.

The Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission is granted $599,997 to control invasive species on approximately 1,000 acres in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin. Funding will help protect high quality habitat, as well as increase access to the coastline and nearshore areas.

The Wisconsin Tribal Conservation Advisory Council will use their $393,750 grant to employ four tribal civilian conservation corps, who will work with eleven tribes to prevent the degradation of subsistence fish and wild rice resources. Funded staff will also manage aquatic, wetland and terrestrial invasive species on more than 500 acres of tribal lands.

Picture of chainsaw and helmet on truck tailgate.

Gearing up for oak savanna restoration.

Two new invasive control employees will be funded for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. They will receive $551,669 to pay for two new crew members to control invasive species in 900 acres of the Great Lakes Basin. Lake Winnebago Chain of Lakes and the Fox River above Green Bay will be targeted.

An award of $599,673 will go to the Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership to control invasive species on approximately 1,370 acres of wetland and aquatic habitat in northeastern Wisconsin. The funded project will improve the ecosystem services and enhance tourism, property values and navigation.

According to Jim Kettler, Executive Director of the Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership. “LNRP efforts to control and limit Phragmites spread will focus on collaboration between stakeholders including federal, state, and county agencies, local townships, private landowners, community non-profits, and natural area and right-of-way managers through the implementation of best management practices, education, and outreach.”

Contact Allison Nowotarski (nowotarski.allison@epa.gov) for more information about these grants.

June 2017

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Let’s Get Cutting

With the early onset of hot weather in Wisconsin, wild parsnip is now starting to bloom. This is the best time to mow this serious invasive plant.

Check out this article by WDNR invasive plants coordinator Kelly Kearns:

Wild parsnip blooms early, time to mow or take other control steps

Remember to watch out for wild parsnip sap. If you get it on your skin while exposed to sunlight, the sap causes serious chemical burns.

Saturday, 03 June 2017

Pulling Together

Many hands make light work. When it comes to getting rid of invasive plants like Garlic mustard, Phragmites and Japanese knotweed working together as a community can be the only effective way to get control of an otherwise retractable problem.

Across Wisconsin and the midwest public land managers, right-of-way supervisors and private landowners are coming together to form Cooperative Weed Management Associations (CWMAs). These groups identify and prioritize invasive species, create management plans and execute those plans to reduce noxious weed populations and improve the landscape for everyone. 

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced the 2017 Pulling Together Initiative Request For Proposals. The Pulling Together Initiative is now accepting applications for competitive funding. Details about this funding opportunity are provided in the Request For Proposals, and additional program information can be viewed at www.nfwf.org/pti. The process includes a pre-proposal stage; the pre-proposal submission deadline is July 12, 2017.

The Pulling Together Initiative program is inviting applications for competitive grant funding to promote the conservation of natural habitats by preventing, managing or eradicating invasive and noxious plant species. In 2017, the program will award grants to develop or advance Cooperative Weed Management Areas (CWMAs) and Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMAs).

Eligible applicants include non-profit 501(c) organizations, federal, state, tribal, local, and municipal government agencies, and educational institutions. Approximately $850,000 is available in 2017 and grant requests may be up to $100,000.

If you are interested in finding out more, you can join a webinar on Monday, June 12 at 12 PM Eastern Time/11 AM Central Time to learn about the 2017 grant funding opportunity through the Pulling Together Initiative. You will learn about funding priorities and the application process, receive tips for submitting competitive proposals, and have the opportunity to ask questions. The webinar will last approximately 30 minutes. Please register at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8045866934844885763

If you have any questions, please contact:

Caroline Oswald
Senior Manager
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Central Regional Office
8011 34th Avenue South, Suite 242
Bloomington, MN 55425
612-564-7253
Caroline.Oswald@nfwf.org | www.nfwf.org

 

Thursday, 01 June 2017

June is Invasive Species Awareness Month

What do you think of when you hear invasive species? Some folks see in their minds garlic mustard and buckthorn choking their woods. Others conjure up images of lakes clogged with Eurasian milfoil. Still others may imagine gypsy moths or emerald ash borers attacking their trees. All these threats and more face landowners and those who spend time in the outdoors.

As a landowner, invasive plants tend to present the most common issues for land management. Some problems have been around for many years, like honeysuckle while others like Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana), Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) and Lesser calandine (Ranunculus ficaria) are just beginning to show up on the landscape.

Regardless of the threat, prevention is the best strategy for protecting your land. The Wisconsin DNR recommends, “Be careful of materials brought onto your land, especially soil, mulch, compost and plants. They may come with unseen roots, seeds or invasive earthworms.”

Some folks are really deep into controlling invasive species. Each year the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council recognizes individuals and groups that make significant contributions to finding and getting rid of these problems. The Invader Crusader Awards honor professionals, volunteers and organizations that have made a difference across our state. Find out who is making a difference.

To learn more about invasive species in Wisconsin and what you can do to protect your land, keep up regularly with our blog posts, make the Conservation Digest website for conservation management information and check out this article in the Prioritizing Invasive Plants in the current issue of the WDNR Natural Heritage niche magazine.

April 2017

Friday, 14 April 2017

Bag ‘Em Danno

Garlic mustard can be pulled or cut, as well. Plants need to be bagged and removed as they produce allopathic chemicals that will continue to suppress native plants if the dead garlic mustard is left not he ground. The other reason for bagging and removing garlic mustard is that plants that have flowered will use their remaining nutrients to produce mature seed even after the plant is pulled.

Folks who live in southeastern Wisconsin can participate in 2017 Garlic Mustard Pull-A-thon. Sponsored by the Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium, Inc. (SEWISC), it is an annual fundraiser event, that encourages youth and adults throughout southeastern Wisconsin to protect their woodlands by pulling this invasive plant.  The goal this year is to pull 10,000 pounds and raise essential funds for the fight against invasive species!

Head to the Wisconsin DNR website for more information about controlling garlic mustard.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Fired Up Over Garlic Mustard

Photograph by: Paul Bolstad, University of Minnesota, Bugwood.org

My favorite method to control garlic mustard is with prescribed fire. Not only does it kill the weeds and their seed in the soil, it stimulates fire adapted native plant seeds to germinate. Not only will the fire control garlic mustard, but it suppresses the invasive shrubs that have degraded so much of our woodlands in Wisconsin.

photograph by Mark Horn, Conservation Media LLC

Unfortunately, you must have a trained and well equipped which most private landowners find too difficult to find or expensive to afford. Garlic mustard also often grows in areas that lack enough ground fuel to carry fire through the weed patches.

While it may be too late to arrange a controlled burn this spring, now is a great time to begin planning for next year. The Wisconsin Prescribe Fire Council is a good place to start

Head to the Wisconsin DNR website for more information about controlling garlic mustard.