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home : most recent : region 5 September 26, 2017

9/8/2017 9:26:00 AM
Into the woods: Group to offer training on tackling woodland invasive plants
Agrement reached to address invasion
As work days and training opportunities focusing on invasive species continue to be added to the calendar, two larger entities have announced a cooperative agreement that aims to spur the creation of local existing cooperative weed management areas around the Hoosier state.

The Southern Indiana Cooperative Invasives Management group and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service have entered into a five-year, $1.8 million contribution agreement to help with the effort.

Both groups, according to a press release, have come to the conclusion that in order to make headway in invasive species control, the issue needs to be addressed at the local level by local people using local resources.

Drews noted that and Soil and Water Conservation District development director Troy Hinkle along with several other area residents are involved in the Southern Indiana Cooperative, which is the oldest and largest of the state's existing cooperative weed management areas and will take the lead on this statewide agreement.

Hinkle, a member of the Southern Indiana Cooperative Invasive Management board, said the Natural Resources Conservation Service would provide funding to hire staff to work with soil and water conservation districts and other organizations to develop cooperative weed management areas that cover one or two counties.

The NRCS has earmarked $917,400 into the agreement and the Southern Indiana Cooperative has agreed to raise an equal amount, bringing the grand total to $1.8 million in funds.

“That's a pretty sizable amount of money, so we're hoping that will draw a lot of interest that might not have been there before,” Drews said.

He also noted that while the agreement won't directly affect the county's cooperative weed management area, it will play a role in getting similar groups up and running.

“The people who are involved with our [Soil and Water Conservation District] and [cooperative weed management area] had a lot of leverage with this and have really contributed to try and get this big agreement going, so it's really cool,” Drews said. “We'll probably be helping other groups around the area become active.”

Jess Cohen, Vincennes Sun-Commercial

When natural resources specialist Will Drews heard that local nature enthusiasts and property owners wanted more training opportunities on combating invasive species, he turned to the woods.

“We thought a woodland setting would be a good one to start with,” Drews said. “This woodland invasive plant training is designed to be targeted to a large audience, ranging from people who are just outdoor enthusiasts to actual contractors.”

The training is set from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Sept. 16 at the Southwest Purdue Ag Center, 4669 Purdue Road.

While the techniques involved in controlling these green invaders within a forest might not differ drastically from how invasive species should be handled in a garden or an open field, the species that thrive in the woods can be drastically different from those found in other environments.

“We'll be focusing on plants that we know are especially detrimental to forest land,” Drews said. “Those would be things like winter creeper, Asian bush honeysuckle, Japanese honeysuckle and Tree of Heaven.”

Ron Rathfon, who serves as Purdue University's extension forester in Southwest Indiana, will be leading most of the training, Drews added.

“He actually gets to do research on some of the cutting-edge techniques to controlling invasive plants in woodlands,” he said. “We're really excited to have him come talk.”

Those taking part in the training will gain some valuable insight into how to identify and control these types of invasive plants, and they will also learn about technical and financial assistance opportunities through the county's Soil and Water Conservation District that could ease the burden of tackling invasive species.

The overall goal of the training, Drews noted, is to generate more interest in invasive species management as a forest management practice.

“I don't think people are yet aware of how detrimental invasive plants can be to forest lands,” he said. “In order to have a healthy forest ecosystem, you're going to need to do some invasive species management.”

Contractors, Drews noted, might be especially interested in attending the training because it will be approved by the Office of the Indiana State Chemist, which is responsible for administering agricultural laws involving seeds and pesticides.

That approval means that licensed professionals who have commercial pesticide applicators licenses will be able to obtain continuing credit hours they can apply toward their credentials.

“Hopefully that will help draw some folks to the training, too,” Drews said. “We're hoping to have a rotating theme of different trainings in the future, so we're hoping to get good public engagement with this one.”

Copyright 2017 Vincennes Sun Commercial

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