HMN David Forrer, Cohort VI, on a collaborative effort to curb invasive plants in Virginia:
All of us HMNs are painfully aware of the many invasive plants that are taking over landscapes and forests around us. In addition to the stiltgrass, garlic mustard, and other invasives we see and do battle with in the forest, I spend a couple hours every week, along with half a dozen other volunteers, removing invasive plants at the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum. There are times when I feel that we may never work ourselves out of a job because of all the invasives that are planted around the arboretum. In the national forests, I’d pretty much given up hope.
However, I was recently given a ray of hope. Several weeks ago, I attended a virtual presentation (via the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden talk series) about invasive plants by Beth Mizell, with the group PRISM (Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management). During the presentation, Beth informed us of a Virginia House of Delegates Resolution that could result in curtailing the sale of invasive plants. But they need our input. Here is her response to my request for more details:
HJ 527 is a VA House Resolution mandating the formation of a work group representing conservation groups, private landowners, and the nursery industry. The work group is led by the Department of Conservation and Recreation and Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to develop specific recommendations aimed at reducing invasive plants for sale in Virginia. You can read the resolution language at the website below:
It is too soon to tell what the specific work group recommendations will be and if these recommendations will be taken up by the legislative bodies in Virginia. Public comment is an important part of this process either in person at the meetings or by email. You may send any comments to the workgroup agency leads, Nathan Burrell and Larry Nichols, at the following email addresses.
larry.nichols [at] vdacs.virginia.gov
nathan.burrell [at] dcr.virginia.gov
Not only does the work group need to hear how invasive plants impact you, they need to hear specific recommendations from the public about getting invasive plants banned and promoting native plants. Here are some suggestions:
- Amend the noxious weed law to clarify or remove commercial viability, so more plants can be classified as noxious weeds and banned for sale in VA and work with those impacted to phase out invasive plants popularly used in landscaping
- Form a statewide biodiversity task force
- Fully fund the Virginia Invasive Species Management Plan
- Fund Dept Conservation and Recreation to update Virginia Invasive Plant List on a regular basis with a defined science-based process
- Prohibit state agencies from selling or planting anything on the Virginia Invasive Plant List; use native plants wherever possible
You can also recommend that the state set aside funds to assist private landowners with invasive eradication efforts.
Beth Mizell, Blue Ridge PRISM
info [at] blueridgeprism.org | http://www.blueridgeprism.org
– David Forrer, Cohort VI, November 2021
Note that the meetings for the work group led by DCR and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are concluding by November 30, 2021, but the report will likely not get submitted until early 2022. Meanwhile, letting policymakers know your views is impactful.
The photo at the top of this post shows HMNs Burt Blessing and Dave Forrer on the right with fellow arboretum volunteers Karen Craun and Craig Chandler on the left. The truck bed is full of invasive stiltgrass they have removed. More about their work HERE. Photo courtesy of the Edith J Carrier Arboretum.
DCR’s Virginia Invasive Plant Species List is HERE.