Workshop Attendees Target “Top 10 Least Wanted” Invasive Plants

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Jerry Smith Park Entrance.  The Park is located on 139th Street, 3/4 mile East of Holmes Road and is open to the public.  Photo courtesy of Matt Garrett.

On the morning of Friday July 14th, forty people from 19 different organizations, including 10 different municipal parks departments from Kansas and Missouri met for the first in a series of five half-day Large Landscape Maintenance Education workshops. The Invasive Species Identification and Control workshop focused on a “Top 10 Least Wanted” list of commonly encountered invasive species and addressed how to control infestations from a large landscape scale perspective. Larry Rizzo, Missouri Department of Conservation Natural History Biologist; Matt Garrett, Johnson County Park & Recreation District Field Biologist; and Bill Fessler of Kansas City MO, Parks & Recreation led participants in the field and addressed most effective control methods, potential pitfalls, safety precautions and strategies to prevent recurrence.

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Bill Fessler addresses a group of parks employees and other concerned land managers at KCNPI Invasive Species Workshop July 14.  Photo courtesy Matt Garrett.

The ten species addressed during the workshop included: Japanese honeysuckle, shrub honeysuckle, common and cut-leaved teasel, musk thistle, tree of heaven, wintercreeper, garlic mustard, serecia lespedeza, Callery/Bradford pear, and Johnson grass.  The difficulty of choosing a single location in the KC metro that would have all of these species present became evident in the workshop planning, as in some cases only one or two individual plants were found, and some were not present at Jerry Smith Park at all.  Three of the ten had to be brought in for the day from other sites.  This is a testament to all those who work tirelessly to keep these invaders at bay at this jewel of a park.

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Larry Rizzo with a single year’s growth of Ailanthus altissima, Stinking tree or Tree of Heaven.  One of ten species addressed by the workshop held at Jerry Smith Park.  Photo by Sarah Beier

Before and between sessions, attendees enjoyed a continental breakfast sponsored by Mid-America Regional Council’s Water Quality Education Committee, and Bridging the Gap provided composting and recycling services to make it a green event, with very little sent to landfill.

The workshop concluded with a discussion of tools, and recommendations on safe and effective application of herbicide including proper use of backpack sprayers and mist sprayer fogger.  Linda Lehrbaum, Program Director of Kansas City WildLands gave tips on engaging and training volunteers and the asset that they can become to address invasive species.

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Additional prairie restoration trainings offered over the next 12 months will cover fire management, site selection and preparation, month-by-month maintenance, and equipment.  Watch KCNPI newsletter and social media for dates and registration as they are announced.  For more information on battling these ten plants and other invasive species on your property, see the Missouri Department of Conservation website, the Missouri Invasive Species Task Force, contact your local extension office, or join a volunteer workday in your community to get hands on experience and training.

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