Battling invasion by five prohibited plant species
This season we are continuing our work to map, manage and contain populations of five NR-40 listed plant species that have invaded our 8-county region:
Wild chervil (Anthriscus sylvestris) (left) is an herbaceous biennial that grows up to 3.25 feet with hollow stems that are covered in hairs. Plants grow aggressively to out-compete native vegetation and are forming extensive stands in Ozaukee, Sheboygan and Washington Counties.
Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) (right) grows as an herbaceous groundcover with kidney to heart-shaped leaves and yellow buttercup flowers. Plants appear soon after snow melt and rapidly spread into new areas. After flowering in March and April, plants die back by June providing a very narrow window in which to search, identify and control this invader which is spreading in Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Walworth and Washington Counties.
Hairy willow herb (Epilobium hirsutum) (left) is a semi-aquatic perennial herb that grows 3-6 feet tall, with fine, soft hairs covering the entire plant. Tall, branching stems form dense, monotypic stands that can be found in open riparian areas along streams, ditch banks, wetlands and moist waste places. The plant is flood tolerant and spreads by seeds and stolons, which develop into rhizomes after growing into the ground. The rhizomes branch extensively, and are growing up to 2 meters in length in Kenosha, Racine and Sheboygan Counties.
Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) (right) is an herbaceous biennial or monocarpic perennial that grows as a bushy rosette the first year, and then bolts during the second year to 8-20 feet tall. The hollow, ridged stems are covered in coarse white hairs and reddish-purple mottling. Leaves are compound, 1 to 5 foot wide, palmate, deeply lobed and pointed. Flowers are large flat-top umbels, up to 20 inches wide, with white, 5-petaled flowers that bloom from May-July. To-date giant hogweed has been contained in Sheboygan County. Sap from giant hogweed plants can cause severe burns and blisters!
Manchu Tubergourd (Thladiantha dubia) (left), also known as golden creeper, is a perennial herbaceous 6 to 20 foot vine with showy, bright yellow flowers that bloom from July to September. Leaves are ovate with a heart-shaped base and stems are slender, climbing over other vegetation by means of tendrils. Plants reproduce by very persistent, widely spreading, fleshy, underground, potato-like tubers, making the species extremely difficult to eradicate in Waukesha County.
SEWISC continues to encourage and support southeastern Wisconsin roadway maintenance crews in their efforts to control invasive plant populations which were mapped from 2011-2013 through the efforts of more than 150 resident volunteers. Wild parsnip, common and cut-leaved teasel, Japanese knotweed and common reed grass populations were the target of these citizen science inventory efforts.
In 2015 SEWISC held meetings with key representatives in more than 100 cities, towns and villages in our region. The 2011-13 invasive species inventory data was shared with the local officials and roadway managers during those meetings along with methods to control those populations. Roadway managers expressed a need for additional funding to control the populations, so we set our sights on securing those funds.
Great News! Nearly $551,000 in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding through the Environmental Protection Agency was awarded to SEWISC for the control of 2,174 populations of our target inventory species along the roadways in Sheboygan, Ozaukee, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha Counties. Roadway crews in those counties must use this funding for control efforts by September 30, 2020. Visit our Roadside Inventory and Management web page for more information and to view the map for your area. Local governments must contact us soon for sub-awards details.
Even modest efforts can make a big difference toward reducing the impact of invasive species. Urban landowners as well as those who own and manage larger acreages can now encourage good stewardship and backyard conservation practices by posting these signs. Whether you have rural acreage, a suburban yard, or a city lot, you can help protect the environment by controlling invasive species and promoting that stewardship practice to others.
The high-quality 9x12 inch aluminum signs are available for only $16.99 each, or two for $29.99 (price includes shipping and handling).
Sixteen exciting proposals were submitted for funding to the 2019 SEWISC Assistance Program was graciously provided by the James E. Dutton Foundation and the We Energies Foundation. The selection committee selected six on-the-ground invasive species control projects benefitting native wildlife which will be conducted in our region over the next few months:
$2,000 was awarded to the Waukesha County Land Conservancy for removal of common reed, teasel, wild parsnip, yellow iris and other invasive plant species from five ecologically significant preserves, each of which is a designated natural area of regional significance. This project will protect native wildlife communities, restore threatened habitats, improve water quality, and support the Conservancy’s alliance with Waukesha County Parks, The Nature Conservancy, and Tall Pines Conservancy. SEWISC funds will be used to cover contracting services and to purchase project materials and supplies.
Riveredge Nature Center was awarded $1,689 to fund an ongoing invasive species removal and monitoring program that employs the Center’s strengths in native plant and wildlife habitat education and multi-generational outreach. The project focuses on the removal of garlic mustard, wild parsnip and Dame’s rocket within a 112 acre project area. Funding will be used to purchase equipment and supplies required to complete the project
A $1,061 award was given to Carl & Barbara Schwartz for removal of buckthorn in a 1.4 acre ravine visible from the Fox Point footbridge which serves as a wildlife-watching hub for dozens of walkers, bicyclists and families. The project will focus on controlling invasive vegetation while educating the public about the process through signage and pamphlets. The Village of Fox Point will feature the community project through their website and newsletter. SEWISC funds will be used for educational materials and buckthorn removal.
SEWISC awarded $2,000 to Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department to improve the ecology in Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve through invasive species management and native tree planting. A preserve inventory will be conducted to identify and map invasive plant populations which will swiftly be managed to protect this important wildlife habitat from further invasion. The project will be completed by Department staff and volunteers along with SEWISC-funded conservation corps teams.
Hawthorne Hollow Nature Sanctuary was awarded $2000 to repair a severely eroded ravine by increasing the water storage capacity of the land on newly acquired property. Invasive species will be abated before project implementation and include cut-leaved teasel, buckthorn, multiflora rose, autumn olive and Eurasian bush honeysuckles. This effort began in 2017, but requires additional funding for completion. The SEWISC award will be used for equipment and herbicide.
And, a $2,000 awarded was given to Ozaukee Washington Land Trust to assist the Friends of Cedarburg Bog (FOCB) with their program to prevent establishment of common reed, Japanese knotweed, wild parsnip, and two species of teasel in a 28 mi2 area surrounding the Cedarburg Bog State Natural Area. These invasive species are still uncommon and easily controlled in this important wildlife habitat project area. The Land Trust will use SEWISC funds to eliminate the few extant populations of common reed on 11 acres of public, private, and roadside rights-of-way land while FOCB volunteers locate and eradicate the other four target species.
Garlic mustard is an invasive plant that’s taking over our woodlands. It crowds out our beautiful native wildflowers and endangers forests by preventing tree seedlings from growing. To make matters worse, none of our native insects or wildlife eat it!
Help us remove this invader and keep our local natural areas healthy. Join us as we pull and bag garlic mustard for the 2019 Garlic Mustard Pull-A-Thon, a regional competition organized by SEWISC. You’ll help revitalize natural areas and raise funds for ongoing control, education and outreach.
A trophy and bragging rights will be awarded to the Pull-A-Thon Team that pulls the most garlic mustard/dame’s rocket and pulls in the most donations by June 30. Hurry! There are 3 ways you can still get involved with this fantastic effort: