“The best way to learn about invasive plants is to get your hands on them,” SNRAS graduate student Marie Heidemann told attendees at a public meeting April 28. In the future there will be many opportunities for volunteers to help pull the pesky plants but for now a management plan is a top priority.
Heidemann’s research project is to help the UAF invasive plant task force create an invasive plant management plan, the first at a university in the state. She presented a draft of the plan at the meeting, stressing that the thirteen-member task force is seeking to develop a long range plan, not looking for short-term solutions. It would be great to begin implementing aspects of the plan right away, but with long-term results in mind, she explained. “Alaska is a good place to do a plan like this because we are in a good position to tackle invasive plants and prevent ecological damage,” Heidemann said. Although Alaska has its fair share of invasive plants it doesn’t have as bad a problem as the contiguous states do.
“Our goal is to be good stewards of the environment and our community by preventing the spread of invasive plants and the establishment of new invasive plants,” Heidemann said. The task force wants to encourage the university to adopt best management practices and to use weed-free supplies. Another goal is to promote education and awareness of invasive plants to the UAF community, she said.
One of the main concerns of the audience was herbicide use. Heidemann explained that is still being discussed and the task force is open to suggestions. One beekeeper expressed concern about eradicating white sweetclover, which is attractive to bees. Task force member Michele Hebert, UAF Cooperative Extension Service agent, said that spraying could be timed to avoid bee activity and herbicides with the least effect on certain species of bees could be chosen.
“We want the plan to be an example for the rest of the state,” Hebert said.
Invasive plants are non-native species that threaten ecosystems and cause economic loss as a result of their ability to spread rapidly, dominate resources, and replace native plants. The UAF plan will provide clear guidelines to reduce the presence of invasive plants on campus. The mission is: “The UAF invasive plant management plan provides campus land managers with clear guidelines and management priorities to reduce current invasive plant infestations and prevent the establishment of new invasive plants.”
To review the draft plan, make comments, or find out more details, contact Heidemann, 474-7298.