“This program supports the efforts and goals of landowners to reduce land management costs by removing invasive species, restoring native habitats and reestablishing biodiversity to strengthen climate change resiliency,” said Rich Cogen, Ohio River Foundation’s executive director. “We’ve removed hundreds of thousands of invasive plants from hundreds of acres of park lands, and we’re now growing the program to improve even more public spaces.”
Examples of invasive plants in our region include Amur honeysuckle, Callery pear and lesser celandine. These invasive species are not native to the Ohio River watershed’s ecosystem. Often transported through human activities, they spread rapidly and crowd out native plants. This creates an inferior habitat for native wildlife, including pollinators, and leads to a lack of biodiversity. The overall result is an unhealthy forest that can be more susceptible to diseases, invasive species and the vagaries of climate change. It also serves as a seed bank, spreading invasive plants to other areas in the region.
Beyond these ecological problems, invasive plants present other issues for public lands managers. They can be costly to trim and maintain; reduce visibility on public walking paths, leading to safety concerns; decrease property value; and are less aesthetically appealing.
“By developing an invasive species strategic management plan, we can help area parks get established invasive plant populations under control,” Cogen said. “We also offer training so that municipal employees can continue invasive plant maintenance.”