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.

April 2018

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Why is it important to define a species as an introduced species?

When a species enters a new environment, it may find there a number of other organisms that keep it in check. There may be sufficient food and water. While there may be competition for those resources, there are enough for the new species to get by within bounds. In that happy case, the new species reaches what is called equalibrium in its new home.

If the existing predators are too successful, competition too fierce, or climate conditions are unbearable, the species will quickly decline and fail in its new environment.

Some species arrive in a new environment; find its climate to their liking with few predators and weak competitors. Assuming plenty of food and water, the sky is the limit. The new species will thrive, pushing out competitors and making itself one of the dominant species in its new home. Those are plants, animal and micro organisms we call invasive.

Invasive species may be either native or alien. Sometimes a native species can become invasive if conditions favor the native plant, such as in soil disturbed by recent fire or construction activity. In those cases, the “pioneer” species will be dominant and appear invasive until conditions return to pre-disturbance and its neighbors regain their place in the environment.

Alien invasive species are much more of a problem because the local environment lacks the predators and competitors that kept it in bounds in its old home. It can take many generations for a new equilibrium to occur. In the mean time many native species can become extinct in their local environment never to return.

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October 2017

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 ( for more information about these grants.


August 2016

Sunday, 14 August 2016

March 2016

Thursday, 03 March 2016

Weed Management

These organizations specialize in guarding our land and water from invasive plants, animals and diseases.



Adirondacks Park Invasive Plant Program(NY)
Appalachian Ohio Weed Control Partnership (OH)

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Bayfield Regional Conservancy (WI)
Becker County (MN) CWMA
Blue Mounds (WI) Area Project
Brown County (WI) Invasive Plant Group


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C.A.K.E Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (MI)
Capital – Mohawk Partnership for (NY) Regional Invasive Species Management
Carlton County (MN) CWMA
Catskill Regional (NY) Invasive Species Partnership
Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health – U of Georgia
Central Minnesota CWMA
Central Upper Peninsula CWMA
Clay County CWMA
Clearwater County (MN) Weed Task Force
Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils
Coastal (NH) Watershed Invasive Plant Partnership
Cook County (MN) Aquatics Invasives Team
Cook County (MN) Invasives Team
Crooked River CWMA (OH)

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Detroit River Western Lake Erie (MI) CWMA
Door County (WI) Invasive Species Team

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Eastern Mahnomen County Weed Management Area CWMA (MN)
Eastern Upper Peninsula (MI) CWMA
Eight Mile River (CT) Invasive Species Management Area

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Finger Lakes (NY) PRISM
Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council

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Georgia Prescribed Fire Council
Greater Sauk County (WI) Invasive Plant Team

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Hawkeye CWMA (IA)
Headwaters Invasive Plant Partnership (IL)

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Indiana Costal CWMA
Invasive Plant Association of Wisconsin

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Juiata CWMA (PA)

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Kandiyohi-Stearns (MN) CWMA
Kenebec County (ME) CISMA
Kenabec County (ME) Weed Management Area Partnership
Keweenaw Invasive Species Management Area (MI)

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Lake County (MN) Invasives Team
Lake Erie (OH) CWMA
Lake Erie (PA) CWMA
Lakeshore (WI) Invasive Species Management Area
Long Island PRISM
Lower Chippewa Invasives Partnership (WI)
Lower Hudson (NY) PRISM

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Mahaska County Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management (IA)
Michigan Invasive Species Coalition
Midwest Invasive Plant Network
Monroe County Invasive Plant Team (WI)

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National Invasive Species Council

New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team
New River Gorge CWPMA (WV)
Norman County CWMA (MN)
North Central (WI) Conservancy Trust
North Central (MI) CWMA
North Central Weed Science Society
North Country CISMA
Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership
Northeast Iowa CWMA
Northeast Michigan CWMA
Northern Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership
Northern Indiana Invasives Management
Northwest Indiana Cooperative Invasives Management
Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network
Northwoods Cooperative Weed Management Area

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Oak Openings Region CWMA
Ottauquechee Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (OCISMA)

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PCA Alien Plant Working Group
Potomac Highlands Cooperative Weed & Pest Management Area
Pope-Swift (MN) CWMA

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Ramsey County (MN) CWMA
Red Lake (MN) Cooperative Weed Management Program
Rice County (MN) CWMA
River to River CWMA

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Saginaw Bay CWMA
St. Croix Red Cedar CWMA (WI)
St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario (NY) PRISM
St. Louis County (MN) CWMA
Scott (MN) CWMA
Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council (WA)
Sinnemahoning Invasive Plant Management Area
South Laurel Highlands Plant and Pest Management Partnership
Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium
Southern Indiana Cooperative Invasives Management
Southwest Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium
Steele County (MN) Invasive Species Management Area
Stewardship Network, The
Stewardship Network, The – Grand Raisin Cluster
Stewardship Network, The – Headwaters Cluster
Stewardship Network, The – Huron Arbor Cluster
Stewardship Network, The – Lakeplain Cluster
Stewardship Network, The – Mid-Michigan Cluster
Stewardship Network, The – Northern Indiana Cluster
Stewardship Network, The Raisin Cluster
Stewardship Network, The – Southwest Corner Cluster
Stewardship Network, The – Three Counties Cluster
Stewardship Network, The – West Michigan Cluster
Stewardship Network, The – Western Lake Erie Cluster
Sudbury-Assabet-Concord River (MA) Watershed CISMA

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Thief River (MN) Watershed CWMA
Timberland Invasives Partnership
Tionesta (PA) Watershed Japanese Knotweed Treatment

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Upper Chippewa Invasive Species Cooperative
Upper Connecticut (VT/NH) CISMA
Upper White River (VT) CWMA

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Wadena County (MN) Cooperative Weed Management Project
Wabasha County CWMA
Washington County/St.Croix River CWMA
West Central Indiana CWMA
West Central Wisconsin Invasive Plant Management Area
Western New York PRISM
Western Peninsula Invasives Coalition – Michigan Invasive Species Coalition
Westfield (MA) Invasive Species Partnership
White Mountain (NH) Early Detection Network
Wild Rivers Invasive Species Coalition (WI)
Wisconsin Headwaters Invasives Partnership
Wright Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA)

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