Working to form local partnership to tackle invasives in County
The Orange County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD), along with the nonprofit group Southern Indiana Cooperative Invasives Management (SICIM), are leading the formation of a local partnership to address invasive species in Orange County, but they need your help.
The SWCD and its partners are asking for community members to complete an online or paper survey, posted at OrangeSWCD.org, so they can learn how best to serve Orange County in invasive species education and management.
Invasive species can include plants such as the infamous Kudzu, known as the vine that ate the south. They can also refer to animals/insects, think of the Emerald Ash Borer, a small insect from Asia that has spread across much of the Midwest and killed millions of native ash trees. In fact, there are many different invasives in Indiana that spread and cause serious economic, environmental, and health impacts. Poison Hemlock, an invasive noxious weed commonly seen along roadsides and fencerows, is highly toxic to humans and livestock. Many invasive plants, such as the shrub Autumn Olive, were or still are planted as ornamental landscape plants or for wildlife. Unfortunately, they create a dense shrub layer in woodlands and interfere with the growth of native plants, including new tree seedlings.
While private and public landowners have managed invasives for years, according to SICIM, one of the best ways to address the threat of invasive species is through local Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas, or CISMAs. Among other things, these grassroots partnerships help to raise awareness of local invasive concerns, bridge the gap between management of invasives on public/private lands, and help address emerging invasive threats.
To support CISMAs, SICIM has partnered with NRCS to hire regional specialists around the state as part of an Indiana Invasives Initiative (more info at http://www.sicim.info/cisma-project/). In Orange County, the SWCD has begun this partnership along with the USDA Forest Service, NRCS, and the Lost River Market & Deli.
“We’re excited to be partnering with these great organizations,” says Michael Wilhite, SWCD Coordinator. “We think having a local CISMA in our county will be a positive force to help stop the invasion of invasive species here and help us further our mission of educating landowners on good conservation practices that can have a real impact on our environment.”