Non Native Invasive Species (NNIS)
According to the Ohio DNR, about 75% of the plant species that currently grow in Ohio are native species that existed here before European settlement of the state. The rest of the plants that grow in Ohio are non-native plants that have been brought in from other parts of the world. Most non-native species do not pose a significant risk to Ohio. They generally grow were they were initially planted and do not spread quickly. However, a few of these non-native plants pose a higher threat to Ohio. These plants are commonly known as non-native, invasive species.
What threat does non-native, invasive species pose to Ohio?
The main problem with non-native, invasive species is that these plants spread quickly and take space away from native species. This often leads to monoculture forests and grasslands that lack the plant diversity needed for a healthy wildlife habitat. Invasive species can also cause problems for humans. When an area becomes too overgrown with an invasive species, it is often difficult for hunters, hikers, and other people enjoying the outdoors to walk through it. Certain invasive species can also have negative impacts on human health. For example, wild parsnip and giant hogweed sap can cause skin and eye irritation. Finally, the problems created by non-native, invasive species can be costly. Researchers at Cornell University found that the United States losses $34 billion dollars in damages due to non-indigenous weeds each year.
What can I do to stop this problem?
1. Be informed: Learn about the non-native, invasive species that exist in the Lower Muskingum River Watershed area. This will help you avoid these plants and prevent the spread of their seeds.
2. Don’t plant invasive species: People generally plant non-native, invasive species because they are looking for a plant with certain characteristics for their wooded land, garden, etc. However, there are usually excellent alternative to these plants that will not create the environmental harm that invasive species can cause. When you buy seed, soil, and mulch mixes, please check with your vendor to ensure that the mix is not contaminated with invasive species seeds.
3. Check yourself after hikes: We’ve been taught since we were young to check ourselves for ticks after a hike in the woods. After every walk you should also check your clothing and belongings for invasive species seeds. This will help reduce the likelihood that the plants will spread to new areas.
4. Remove invasive species from your property: Ohio DNR’s website is an excellent resource that you should use to learn how to properly kill invasive species that you find on your property. Dispose of plants that you remove from your land properly by placing the plants in plastic bags. If you are allowed in your area, burning the material is often a good idea.
5. Volunteer: If you don’t have any invasive species growing on your property, help out others that do! The Friends of the Lower Muskingum River often has invasive species removal opportunities available. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-374-4170.