By Ellen Jacquart
Seventeen of us met at Noodles on Kirkwood today to have lunch and talk about invasive plants. We had a great discussion, led by Heather Reynolds about invasive plants being drivers (invading an area without help) or passengers (invading an area because of some underlying condition, like deer browse or other kind of disturbance). We talked about a simple experimental approach for those managing invasive plants on their land. For instance, after clearing an area of invasives, put up a small (2-5' diamter) exclosure of hardware cloth to keep deer out and watch to see if you have a difference between inside and outside the exclosure. For instance, if native plants come back vigorously inside the exclosure, but there are very few outside the exclosure - you may have a problem with overbrowse by deer or rabbits. We're going to think more about a simple protocol and promote something for all landowners to try this year.
Other updates and general discussion
Linda Thompson noted that the Mayor will be presented with the Monarch Pledge to sign; Bloomington has so many good things going on with planting natives that it seems like a perfect fit.
Nancy Anderson reported that Park Ridge East is hosting a free Milkweed for Monarchs winter sowing event scheduled for Sunday, March 4, 2-4 pm at St. Thomas Lutheran Church on East Third St. There is also a Native Plant and Native Seed Exchange event at the Park Ridge East Park for Saturday, May 12. For more details and updates, they have a Facebook page @PREnativeplantsgroup.
Rex Watters noted that he is seeing more and more Chinese Maiden Grass (Miscanthus) moving out of cultivation and spreading into open areas, and that people need to quit planting it.
Ellen gave an update on the invasive plant rule that will make it illegal to sell Miscanthus and 43 other species in Indiana - the rule is at the Office of Management and Budget, and appears to be stuck there. Take two minutes and help move this rule forward by emailing Governor Holcomb! Go to http://mc-iris.org/invasive-plant-rule.html for the easy steps on how to do this.
Gillian noted that there are six neighborhoods in Bloomington actively organizing to control invasive plants and replace them with native plants. The movement keeps expanding! These neighborhoods and the good work they are doing will be on display at this year's Sustaining Nature and Your Land Day (June 16, 9 am to 1 pm, City Hall).
Bamboo - we discussed the sites in Bloomington where bamboo is spreading aggressively. Ellen noted she'll add the problematic species of bamboo to the MC-IRIS comments on the city ordinances.
We agreed we'd look for a quieter lunch place with a separate room for the next Invasive Lunch, which will be May 16. Location and topics for discussion will be sent out in advance. Our next MC-IRIS meeting is Tuesday, May 6 at 1 pm, Room 100A at Monroe County Parks and Recreation office.