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Invasive Species

  Invasive Species   

Link to OI Magazine (May 2011 issue)


Slowly, but persistently, making their way across the land, ecologically invasive plants are the silent invaders of our times. These unwanted plants destroy over three million acres each year in the United States and the annual cost of combating this invasion of damaging invasive plants is in excess of $35 billion. Invasive plants affect all of us as everybody faces increasing costs for food and lumber production while property values and recreational opportunities decline in areas where invasive species have taken hold. The beauty and biological diversity associated with healthy natural areas are being lost as well. Hundreds of invasive species occur in Illinois, and unfortunately, the list grows almost daily.

An invasive species is any species not native to a particular ecosystem, including its seeds, spores, or other biological material capable of propagating that species AND whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm.

Exotic species are those plants and animals that were not present in Illinois prior to the time of European settlement and not all exotic species are invasive; however, many of them are aggressively invasive in new environments because their natural enemies and other environmental controls were left behind in their native lands.  Invasion by exotic species usually results in the elimination of native species, reduction of the natural biological diversity and degradation of habitat.  On the other hand, sugar maple, a tree native to the State of Illinois, is sometimes aggressively invasive.

Governor Pat Quinn has proclaimed May Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month and encourages individuals and public and private groups to sponsor and participate in activities to help all Illinois residents and visitors gain a better understanding of the impact of invasive species on Illinois’ waterways, wildlands and agricultural lands. IDNR’s Division of Education provides a number of exercises on invasive species meant for use at various grade levels in the schools. Get Involved! Consider becoming a volunteer in your area to help with invasive species control projects taking place at state parks, etc. Please, grab your favorite pair of work gloves, gather some friends and devote a few hours of your time to help preserve the natural community we know as Illinois. Look over the directory of programs and sites in need of volunteers and then download an application form for the IDNR volunteer program that most appeals to you.

New! Feral swine are detrimental to Illinois wildlife, wildlife habitats, pets, livestock and people. These highly adaptable animals have escaped from traditional hog operations, been dumped pets or been illegally dumped. Learn more about the impacts feral swine have and how to report sightings.

Additional information on invasive species in Illinois can be found in two special editions of Outdoor Illinois magazine July, 2004, and May, 2011.

The Illinois Invasive Plant Species Council (IIPSC) was formed in March, 2005, to minimize the adverse economic and ecological effects invasive plants pose to the State of Illinois. The Illinois Exotic Weed Act administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources prohibits the sale and/or purchase of some of the most problematic invasive plant species in Illinois. The Illinois Noxious Weed Law administered by the Illinois Department of Agriculture prohibits the landowner from permitting the growth of several weedy invasive species on their property.

The Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership, the River-to-River Cooperative Weed Management Area, the Gateway Cooperative Weed Management Area and the Rock Island group (coming soon) are multiple county partnerships formed for more efficiently waging the battle against invasive plant species in Illinois. In addition, the Illinois Lake Management Association and the New Invaders Watch Program are very active in the detection and treatment of invasive plant populations in Illinois.

Groups with a multi-state approach include the Midwest Invasive Plant Network, Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health and the National Invasive Species Information Center. Many of these organizations offer identification and management guidelines for invasive plant species such as the US Forest Service CD-Rom Invasive Plants of the Eastern United States: Identification and Control.

The Illinois Nature Preserves Invasive Species Management Guidelines presents a detailed treatment of the life cycle, ecology and treatment recommendations for management of the most problematic invasive plant species in Illinois. Additional ID guides and treatment recommendations for the most problematic species in Illinois have also been prepared along with an excellent ID Guide for Kudzu in Illinois. Several one page fact sheets on identification and control have been developed to aid land managers in their being able to identify and control either new invasive plant species or plant species not yet detected in their areas as Early Detection, Rapid Response, is very important in prevention of new invaders becoming a problem.  Japanese Stiltgrass, Japanese Chaff Flower, Kudzu are among the species for which such fact sheets have been produced.

General Information

Illinois Invasive Plant List

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