Invasive Species

Invasive Species

Click HERE to download our new, wallet-sized Do Not Buy Guide to help stop the spread of invasive species at the source! This guide tells you which WNC invasive plants to avoid purchasing and the native alternatives you can use instead. Just print it out, fold it up and keep it with you when you go to your local nursery to get your fall and spring plantings!

The multiflora rose pictured here is one of the 15 invasive exotic plants that WNCA and its SACWMP partners work to control in the Western North Carolina mountains. SACWMP is the not-so-graceful acronym for Southern Appalachian Cooperative Weed Management Partnership.

This partnership has just completed its fifth year of empowering citizens to take to the woods to protect native mountain habitats from aggressive invading plants that were introduced both intentionally and accidentally.

WNCA is one of three organizations that helped to establish and continues to manage the partnership. The other members are Equinox Environmental Land Consultation and Design and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

The larger partnership includes the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, NC Department of Transportation, NC Division of Forestry, and Mountain Valley RCD.

SACWMP has applied for grants to help further educate citizens about invasive plants and teach workshops on invasive plant identification, inventory, and control methods. We held an annual meeting of members in October to plan out the field inventory and control events for 2011. 

In addition, we’ll have our SACWMP website up and running in mid-December. The site will contain our calendar of events and plenty of information about invasive exotic species. We welcome participation from everyone interested in these activities and will publish advance notice each outing in 2011.

In 2010, WNCA had the opportunity to head up two Stimulus Package-funded projects involving invasive exotic plant control in western North Carolina. From March through June, Ecologist Bob Gale was involved in coordinating an invasives control project at the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy’s Ochlawaha Bog in Henderson County.

The Bog is a remnant of the extensive network of mountain wetlands that existed prior to the settlement and farming era of the region. The land had been diked off from Mud Creek and ditched around its perimeter in an effort to drain a field used to grow tomatoes and other crops.

The property also includes a rare species called Bunched Arrowhead which has barely hung in there through the decades of alterations. A project has been designed to restore much of the historic bog and increase the chances for the arrowhead’s long term viability.

Before the restoration activities could begin, however, dense monocultures of various invasive exotic species that have colonized the dike and ditches had to be treated. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service provided Stimulus funding under the American Resource and Recovery Act (ARRA) through the Conservancy which awarded the project bid to WNCA.

Bob and Project Supervisor Lauren Reker trained volunteers who assisted Lauren in treating an estimated 95% of the invasive weeds through spring and summer.

Targeted species included Japanese Honeysuckle, Multiflora Rose, Privet, Chinese Silvergrass, English Ivy, Japanese Spirea, and an escaped Japanese Holly shrub.

The land is scheduled to be turned over to the state for permanent protection, and future control efforts will need to be continued by the appropriate agency. We are pleased to have been able to leave the property in a greatly reduced invasives condition as this transition begins.

WNCA has also just resumed its second year of work on the U.S. Forest Service’s Cheoah River project, an ARRA project that is controlling invasive plants along 9 miles of the river from Lake Santeetlah dam to Cheoah Lake.

The original project was to occur from 2009 to 2012, but the Forest Service was able to secure additional funding to expand the acreage of areas to be controlled and we will be working along the river through 2014.

Our appreciation goes to Lauren who returned to supervise the on the ground work again this year and to the 10 Cherokee Nation crew who are helping her.

We also welcome Mary Schultz who replaces Chris Davis as the second member of WNCA’s Cheoah supervisory staff. Lauren and Mary began the 2010 work in late July, and the project continued for ten weeks ending through mid-October.

Safeguarding Our Forests

Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and several state-owned parks, forests, and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts, and recreation.