Friday, June 29, 2012

Guest Article - Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership

Illinois is full of dedicated people and innovative ideas for addressing invasive species.  From time to time, this blog is going to host guest articles in which the stories about some of these people, projects, or ideas are told.  Our first such article comes from Cathy McGlynn, coordinator of the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership.  All of the guest articles can be viewed HERE.

Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership
by Cathy McGlynn

Invasive plants are expensive. In addition to the ecological costs of plant invasions that we often find hard to put a dollar value on, Illinois spends millions of dollars controlling and managing these species to protect native habitats and their biodiversity. Folks in northern Illinois recently set up a cooperative weed management area so that many agencies and organizations could share resources, expertise, and information because it’s more effective to work on invasive plant issues as a group across property boundaries than individually.

 The Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership (NIIPP) was established in August of 2010 with Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds ( It focuses on the control and management of, and raising public awareness about, invasive plants. We emphasize prevention and early detection/rapid response for dealing with invasive plants – these are the most effective methods known for dealing with biological invasions.

We collaborate with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant on the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! Clean Boats Crew program, which focuses on raising public awareness about aquatic invasive plants at boat launches, marinas, and fishing areas. Our site leaders talk with people all along the Illinois and Indiana Lake Michigan shorelines, providing folks with information about how they can maintain their boats, kayaks, canoes, jet skis, and fishing equipment in a way that decreases their chances of transferring invasive plants and animals among lakes, ponds, and rivers. Last summer we talked with about 1,000 people. Additional information about the program can be found at

Clean Boats Crew in action at Waukegan Harbor, Summer 2011

In addition to talking with the public and as part of a collaboration with the Midwest Invasive Plant Network, NIIPP has been surveying box stores and green industry suppliers about the sale and production of particular ornamental plants. Novelty and beauty are high priority for many gardeners and in order to fill this demand nurseries import plants from around the world. Many of these plants stay where they are planted, but some “escape” from landscaped areas to natural areas and crowd out native plants. When numbers of native plants are reduced the native animals that relied upon them for food and shelter are left to find those resources elsewhere. Our aim is to reduce the production and purchase of these “invasive” ornamental plants. More information about invasive ornamental plants can be found at and

Early Detection and Rapid Response
New and Common Invaders Workshop, 
St. Charles Park District, Fall 2011
NIIPP works closely with the New Invaders Watch Program, an early detection/rapid response program that has been tracking the arrival or potential arrival of invasive plants to the northeastern Illinois region since 2003. We train natural areas managers, volunteer stewards, and the general public to recognize and, we hope, report populations of plants that are infrequently or rarely found in this region. Small populations are much easier and cheaper to eradicate and we can readily reduce impacts on the native animals of the invaded habitats, too. The latest Target Species list can be found at

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Nuisance Species Program has recently made the development of an early detection/rapid response plan for Hydrilla verticillata a high priority. NIIPP is working with the Chicago Botanic Garden and Lake County Health Department to provide education and outreach to lake monitors, anglers, and the general public about this aquatic plant. Because this plant is able to spread so quickly and can be very difficult to remove once it has become established, a rapid response team that would quickly verify reports and eradicate Hydrilla is also being created. Information about Hydrilla can be found here and

NIIPP recently launched the Chicagoland Strike Team to eradicate the population of Japanese Stiltgrass reported in July of 2011 ( It was the only known population in northern Illinois. The population was spread across both public and private lands and the portion on public lands had already been eradicated. The Strike Team was brought in to work on the private property. NIIPP coordinated the efforts of Lake County Forest Preserve District, Tallgrass Restoration, LLC, Forest Preserve District of Will County, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to control the population.
Doug DeWitt of Tallgrass Restoration gives a demonstration about
 backpack sprayer use to IDNR summer interns 2012 
IDNR summer interns set out to “search and destroy” 
Japanese stiltgrass in Wilmington, IL 2012 

In addition to its Strike Team work, NIIPP recently awarded small grants to help with on-the-ground control of invasive plants conducted by Chicago Park District, Kane County Forest Preserve District, and the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County ( And some of our partners are conducting research on what control methods work for invasive plant species about which little is known-the Forest Preserve Districts provide the land and herbicide and our Steering Committee member provides the experimental design and data collection protocol.
Wild Chervil control research plot in Campton Township, Spring  2012
Control of tall goldenrod at Montrose Beach Dunes, 
Chicago Park District, Summer 2011

The Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership is a community of organizations that will continue to work together toward the prevention and control of new invasions and the control of existing invasions by raising public awareness and sharing resources. Our ultimate goal is to put ourselves out of business, but in the meantime we’re keeping very busy!!

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