is a broad-based coalition that promotes efficient and effective management of invasive species throughout Kenosha, Ozaukee, Milwaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha Counties.
At first glance, the cluster of 8-foot-high plants growing near a farm field just north of Plymouth looks harmless enough.
But as Steve Klock likes to point out, it's far from it.
The plant, called Japanese knotweed, is incredibly prolific, quickly spreading via an extensive root system that can burrow 6-feet deep and run 60-feet in either direction. Left untended, it becomes strong enough to push through pavement and can bust through a foundation.
"I talked to a guy who poured blacktop on it and it grew right through it," said Klock, who retired in March as a wildlife technician for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "With Japanese knotweed, they take over until there's nothing else growing there."
That's why Klock and a group of 32 volunteers have begun efforts in Sheboygan County they hope will one day lead to intensive management of the plant along with two other invasive species growing in the area —teasel and phragmite.
Their project is part of a $50,000 federal grant awarded to the Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium, a nine-year-old group that promotes management of invasive plant species throughout the region. The money will help volunteers in eight Southeastern Wisconsin counties — including Sheboygan County — map out where the three invasive plant species are located.
From there, the information will be shared with landowners, municipalities, highway departments and other government agencies. The consortium eventually hopes to train those groups in how to effectively control the plants.
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