Invasive species, which are often non-native and therefore removed from their natural enemies, can have a huge effect on their new surroundings. In our area, there are several plants that threaten the health of our ecosystems by dominating the plant community and thus reducing biodiversity. Some simply out-compete their neighbors for light, water, and nutrients. Some actively attack other plants and prevent them from growing by releasing chemicals into the soil.
To control these undesired species, we carefully evaluate the threat they actually pose to biodiversity on a given site and determine the most appropriate measures to protect that biodiversity. This sometimes involves doing nothing to a particular population of an invasive plant in a particular location. In other cases, however, we may choose to prevent the spread of, and eventually eliminate, an infestation of a particular weed by cutting it, pulling it, or applying herbicide to it.
Herbicide treatments are made at times when the plant is most vulnerable; this allows us to minimize the amount of herbicide used while maximizing our success. When selecting a herbicide, we consider several factors, including its effectiveness on the weed in question, the location of the weed to be controlled, and the characteristics of the herbicide itself, such as the rate at which it breaks down or its potential to leach through the soil.
Since weeds do not recognize political boundaries, Shirley Heinze Land Trust works with several partners through the Indiana Coastal Cooperative Weed Management Area to identify and detect new invaders, and to prioritize and share weed control efforts in and around the natural areas of northwest Indiana. For more information, see the ICCWMA website.
Indiana Invasive Species Council
Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society