Invasive Plant Management

Invasive plants can have severe negative effects on native ecosystems around the world degrading ecological integrity creating devestating consequences that may be felt for generations. Although invasive plants and wildlife can be native, more times than not, when referring to flora and fauna as being invasive we are speaking about non-native or exotic species. Of the 700 or more non-native plants found in the wild in Ohio, less than 100 of them are known to be aggressive invasive species that cause problems in natural areas. The worst of these species degrade Ohio's forests and remaining prairie remnants and wetlands. RCPD parks has long been battling a number of invasive plant species that are destroying natural ecosystems and eliminating critical habitat, food sources, and nesting areas for birds, mammals, and insects.

In 2015, RCPD began a management program with the goal to significantly reduce the impact of the top ten invsive species invading and degrading park habitat. Volunteers and interns are integral stewards that assist the natural resource management staff in accomplishling our invasive plant management needs.

Natural resource management staff routinely hold monthly stewardship programs and occasional workshops to engage and educate people about invasive species and the impact they have on the natural environment. RCPD is a hub for northcentral Ohio as a resource for invasive plant management and has proudly partnered with the Ohio Invasive Plant Council (OIPC), the forefront organization in Ohio engaging with the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), policy makers, natural resource managers, horticulturists, and other stakeholders in formulating and enacting Ohio's invasive species laws that were recognized into effect as of January 7, 2018, to present accessible workshops encompassing a variety of topics ranging from invasive plant management techniques, to planting native alternatives, to providing opportunities to observe live invasive specimens, and purchase native alternatives.

Make sure to check the RCPD calendar for upcoming stewardship programs or workshops.

Invasive Plants in the Richland County Park District

What is an Invasive Plant?

Invasive plants most of the time refer to non-native or exotic plants that degrade the quality of native ecosystems by dominating wildlife habitat and creating monocultures through excessive seed production and dispersal, which ultimately leads to lowered biodiveristy. RCPD park properties encompass many native flora and fauna that are constantly under attack from invasive invaders that can have devestating negative impacts on native populations. Meanwhile, most native animals will not eat these opportunistic invasive species resulting in an unchecked and unbalanced ecosystem that requires scrupulous attention from natural resource management staff to manage effectively and efficiently.

Invasive Plants in Ohio

To learn more about invasive plants in Ohio check out the Ohio Invasive Plant Council website for educational materials including definitions and fact sheets on Ohio's top invasive plant species.

Invasive Plants in RCPD Parks

Every RCPD park has invasive plant infestations that require attention from natural resource management staff. Invasive plant management constitutes the bulk of managemement priorities in RCPD parks to coincide with our vision to provide recreational and educational opportunities through the protection and preservation of Richland County's natural resources to enhance the quality of life for present and future generations. Due to fragmentation of wildlife habitat in northcentral Ohio combined with the interconnectedness of lakes, rivers, and streams  and the lack of education or public awareness for invasive plant management, has allowed for an overabundance of invasive species to infiltrate, create strongholds, degrade ecosystems, lower biodiversity, and spread rapidly among the region. This creates an evolutionary arms race between native and invasive species that is an ongoing battle for dominance over our natural areas and manicured landscapes.

Here is a list of the Top Ten invasive species of highest priority on RCPD park properties:
  1. Amur, Morrow-Bush, Tartarian-bush honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.)
  2. Glossy Buckthorn (Frangula alnus)
  3. Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
  4. European Privet  (Ligustrum vulgare)
  5. Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)
  6. Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacae)
  7. Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
  8. Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)
  9. Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
  10. Narrow Leaved Cattail (Typha angustifolia)

Management

Invasive Management Philosophy

RCPD natural resource management staff, interns, and volunteers use an holistic first approach when managing invasive plants on park property. Our ultimate goal is to have as minimal of a negative impact on the environment as possible by managing invasive species mainly through non-chemical methods such as manual and mechanical removal. With this being said, due to resource constraints sometimes it is impractical nor cost efficient for staff to manage in these methods and chemicals must be used. RCPD employs licensed commercial herbicide applicators with the knowledge and skill to use Best Management Practices (BMP) required by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Management Techniques

Natural resource management staff use an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach when managing for invasive plants in RCPD parks. This means we use a combination of management methods to achieve our goal and be most efficient. 

 Total eradication is often unachievable, unless there is a small isolated infestation that has been managed immediately. Although ideal, it is often impractical and not cost effective to strive for total eradication. A more realistic goal that we strive for is suppression of invasive species to a manageable level allowing our most biologically significant and diverse natural areas to flourish.

 Each RCPD park has its own unique challenges to navigate when managing for invasive species. Although, management plans for each park are different each is framed using the same priorities and often similar management techniques.

 Management techniques used to manage invasive species include manual removal, mechanical (bush mowing and honeysuckle popper), and chemical application. These techniques are used in a variety of habitats found in RCPD Parks from forests, to grasslands to prairies, to wetlands, and to streams. Efforts are focused on targeting areas of high ecological or biological significance or host rare native species.

 Bags of Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) removed from a critical spring ephemeral wildlfower area.

The species mentioned above have been identified as causing the most harm to biological integrity and degradation to ecologically significant habitat. Target species priority for natural resource management staff is dependant on the seasonality (phenology) of the species and its succeptibility to removal efforts. There are approximately 10 secondary target invasive species that are also managed and as staff, interns, and volunteers, continue to survey RCPD park property new invasive species may be added to the list.

Where do Invasive Plants Come From? How do They Get Here?

Non-native or exotic plants are species that are introduced into an area where they do not historically or naturally occur. Not all non-native species are invasive, but many of the invasive species that do exist in a given area tend to be non-native in origin. There are many agents of transportation that allow the spread of invasive species. Most often invasive species are unintentionally introduced to a given area.

In a historical context, many that exist in Ohio today were brought here by explorers during the early days of settlement, bringing familiar food sources and plants from their country of origin. However, this trend still exists today with exotic plants being introduced into areas as ornamental plants, for soil stabilization, or for other reasons. Ornamental plants are used in the horticulture trade and are bred for pest resistance, disease resistace, and abundant flowers or fruit production. Exotic plants that do become invasive often have a competitive advantage over native species due to the lack of pests or dieseases that inflict them from their home country. This competive advantage results in an inbalanced ecosystem that allows invasive species to invade natural areas preventing native species from flourishing.


About Our Parks

Our parks and staff are dedicated to education, enjoyment and preservation of Richland County's natural areas and inhabitants. Our goal is pursued by preserving natural areas for people to experience, and by providing opportunities for people of all ages to learn about the rich diversity of life and habitats in our county.

Our Location

Gorman Nature Center
2295 Lexington Avenue
Mansfield, Ohio 44907

Hours of Operation
Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
(Closed Sunday-Monday and Federal Holidays. Trails are open daily from dawn to dusk.)

419-884-FROG (3764)

© 2015 Richland County Park District. All Rights Reserved.

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