Invasive Plants: Where Are They and How Can You Help?
Invasive Plants and Imagine Austin
Documentation of invasive plants is a big step forward towards reaching Imagine Austin’s Green Infrastructure Priority Program’s goal to “manage Austin’s urban and natural ecosystems in a coordinated and sustainable manner in part by increasing protection of environmentally sensitive land, improving tree cover in every neighborhood, improving health of the watershed, increasing access to parks, and linking these resources throughout the city.” The first step toward coordinated management of invasive plants is to work out what we’re managing and where, and with your help we can achieve this goal.
The City of Austin was recently awarded a Cities of Service grant to train and activate volunteers to document invasive plants on city managed property. This summer, volunteers will visit 35 properties and cover approximately 1,500 acres in search of invasive plants. The data will help the City to make informed land management decisions and to use resources more efficiently.
Attend a training on June 8 or 9 to get involved! You’ll learn two data collection techniques and how to identify Austin’s top twenty-four invasive plants. Then you’ll head into the field with Environmental Scientists to document your discoveries. This is a great opportunities for students who’d like to build their resume, native plant enthusiasts or anyone who likes hands-on learning.
More About Invasives
With rich Blackland prairie in the east to the rolling hills of the Edward’s plateau in the west, Austin’s diverse geography is home to thousands of plant and animal species. Unfortunately, not all of these organisms are beneficial; Austin’s natural resources and economy are being degraded by invasive species.
These unwanted invaders are often unintentionally introduced through the everyday activities of citizens. Sometimes they are deliberately introduced as ornamental or agricultural species. However they arrive, once invasive species are established, they have the potential to change Austin forever. These undesirable species have significant negative impacts including but not limited to:
- Reduction of native biodiversity;
- Interference with ecosystem functions like fire, nutrient flow and flooding;
- Reduction of the value of streams, lakes and reservoirs, for recreation, wildlife and public water supply;
- Reduction of the recreational value of natural areas, parks and other areas.
For more information, contact Jessica Wilson in the Watershed Protection Department by email or phone (512-974-2446).