The Nature Conservancy supports re-authorizing Indiana Invasive Species Council
INDIANAPOLIS -- It dumps sediment in our creeks, out-competes our native flowers and mushrooms, and eliminates wildlife habitat. Oh, and it can crack your house foundation and break through asphalt parking lots.
What is it? Japanese knotweed, an invasive plant from Asia that is spreading in nearly every county in Indiana.
Next week (Feb. 22 -- 28) is National Invasive Species Awareness Week, and it's an opportune time to think about invasive species, and what to do about them.
Unfortunately, Japanese knotweed is just one of many invasive species costing Hoosiers millions of dollars annually.
An invasive species causes ecological or economic harm in a new environment where it is not native. They damage the lands and waters that native plants and animals need to survive. They hurt economies and threaten human well-being. The estimated damage from invasive species worldwide totals more than $1.4 trillion -- five percent of the global economy.
To combat the damage caused by invasive species -- which include Japanese knotweed, the Emerald ash borer and Asian carp -- and to prevent additional invasive species from getting a foothold in our state, the Indiana Invasive Species Council was created by the legislature in 2009 to address invasive species and reduce their impact.
State Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) and State Sen. Sue Glick (R-LaGrange) have authored bills before the Indiana General Assembly to re-authorize this Council, which sunsets in July 2015, until 2023.
The 11-person Council is made up of representatives from the Department of Natural Resources, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, the Board of Animal Health, Department of Transportation and Purdue University, industry, conservation and research.
The Council has focused attention on the need to prevent more invasive species from entering the state and developing a public reporting system for invasive species that are already here.
"We believe the Invasive Species Council has greatly improved Indiana's ability to deal with the costly issue of invasive species," Ellen Jacquart of The Nature Conservancy said. "This Council, important to all Hoosiers, should be re-authorized."
The Nature Conservancy also supports funding for an executive director for the all-volunteer Council, saying it would expand its capabilities to prevent more invasive species from entering the state, and allow conservation groups and government agencies to deal with them better when they do get in.
"Invasive species are wreaking havoc on our natural areas and our wallets," Jacquart said. "They are winning the war. We need to re-authorize the Indiana Invasive Species Council to give native plants and animals -- and our wallets -- a fighting chance."
Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org/indiana.