The Nature Conservancy and our partners in fighting against invasive species continue their work in preventing the spread and the eradication of invasive species from our great state all year round.
What are Invasive Species?
Invasive species can be a plant, animal, insect or pathogen that has the ability to thrive and spread aggressively outside its natural range with devastating consequences. Many times these invasive species are able to push out native species if allowed to become established in the area. Invasive species also affects that wildlife that require native species for food or shelter, and can dramatically change the appearance of natural communities.
The Nature Conservancy understands how detrimental invasive species can be to our native species, economy and conservation efforts which is why controlling controlling invasive species in our natural areas is a priority when it comes to stewarding the lands we protect.
Invasive Species in Indiana
The cost and damages of invasive species are great. The annual cost to the United States economy is estimated at $120 billion a year, with over 100 million acres (an area roughly the size of California) suffering from invasive plant infestations. These species have also contributed directly to the decline of 42% of the threatened and endangered species in the United States.
Our stewards spend a lot of time combating the growth of invasive species in our natural areas. Prevention and monitoring sites for early detection are the most effective strategies to combat invasive species. Unfortunately detection of an invasion is often not early enough, and we end up dealing with a large infestation. As a science-based conservation organization, it is our goal to use the best field-proven methods when removing invasive species from an area. Stringent guidelines are also followed to minimize any risk to native species and the natural communities we are working to protect. After eradication, sometimes it is necessary to restore the habitats back to its original state. The process of removal and restoration can take years, with constant monitoring of the site a must.
Prevention, of course, is ideal. Many Hoosiers are unaware of the species we consider invasive in Indiana, and there are many . By educating the public about invasive species, and promoting stronger public policies concerning them, the Conservancy, along with our partners, hope that we can save our native species and natural communities from unnecessary threats such as the purple loosestrife, garlic mustard and gypsy moths.
A good example of how invasive species affect our state is the emerald ash bored. The Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive specie of great concern to Hoosiers. This exotic, bright green beetle is notoriously known for the deaths of millions of ash trees in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. Since its presence was confirmed in 2006, Indiana has been placed under a federal, three-level quarantine that restricts the moving of regulated ash wood to any other state. It is currently found in 16 of our counties and is monitored annually.
In order to slow the spread of emerald ash borers, the Department of Natural Resources has advertised against the moving of firewood. Visitors from southern Michigan, Ohio, Illinois or residents who live in the sixteen quarantined counties are asked to not move firewood for their area to any of our state parks. Monitoring your ash trees for symptoms of the emerald ash borer can also help. [If you believe you've found evidence of this invasive specie in your backyard, please contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources' Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology.]