Early Detection & Rapid Response

In 2009, a group of concerned individuals and representatives of federal and state agencies, industry, and non-governmental organizations came together in an effort to cooperatively address invasive plants in the state of Tennessee. Their focus centers first on prevention – developing strategies to keep new invasive species out of the state, followed by early detection and rapid response to quickly spot and eradicate these troublesome species. This group, the Tennessee Invasive Plant Species (TIPS) Steering Committee, chose to focus on species that are known to be highly invasive where they occur but 1) do not yet occur in the state of Tennessee or 2) are not yet widespread in the state. Representatives of fourteen entities signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a 41,220 square mile Cooperative Weed Management Area encompassing all of Tennessee and an agreement to work together to educate, detect, inventory, monitor, control, and prevent the spread of cogongrass and other designated species within the state of Tennessee. For more information on this organization, go to the Tennessee Cooperative Weed Management Area Web site.

TN-EPPC’s Research on Cost Estimates of Invasive Exotic Plants in Tennessee

TN-EPPC estimated the cost of invasive plant management to the state, surveying federal and state agencies, non-profit organizations, and private landowners on how much they spend to manage invasive plant species in Tennessee: at least $2.6 million annually.

This figure represents the minimum amount of money spent in our state on invasive plant-targeted control (biological, chemical, and mechanical), mapping, and outreach, taking into account only direct costs. Indirect economic impact includes invasive species influence on ecosystem services and land value by decreasing native plant diversity, crowding out wildlife habitat, degrading wildland recreation potential, and lowering property values.

Estimating the total economic impact of invasive plants is extremely difficult. Nationally, estimates range from $603 million to $25 billion annually ($603 million, Office of Technology Assessment 1993; $25 billion, Pimentel et al. 2005). In 2008, The California Invasive Plant Council estimated that invasive plants cost their state roughly $82 million annually (Brusati 2009). The U.S. Office of General Accounting (2002) recognized that many economic analyses focus on the impacts of invasive species on commercial activities such as agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, rather than on the impact on natural area ecosystems. We focused primarily on the cost of invasive plants on managed natural lands.

We sent our survey to nearly 200 agencies and organizations working in Tennessee. Our resulting figure of $2.6 million in expenditures represents the responses received in the survey and is detailed in the fact sheet below. Other invasive plant organizations interested in conducting a similar study, may download a how-to handbook on developing and implementing a cost assessment survey.

TN-EPPC Invasive Costs Fact Sheet Summary
How to Develop and Implement a Cost-Assessment Survey

Potential Invasive Species Watch List

Nonnative plants not currently recognized on TN-EPPC’s species list have been brought to our attention as potentially invasive in Tennessee due to their status in adjacent states or the experiences of local land managers. We will run these species through our official list protocol at the next revision. In the meantime, we encourage people to report sightings of the following plants to EDDMapS or to us. Click each species for information and image.

Elaeagnus multiflora – Cherry Silverberry
Ficaria verna – Lesser Celandine, Fig Buttercup
Youngia japonica – Oriental False Hawkweed, Asiatic Hawksbeard
Paederia foetida – Skunkvine

Gravel & Sand Pit Certification

Invasive Coltsfoot (_Tussilago farfara_) is inadvertently introduced into Cumberland Gap National Park via gravel for road work. Photo by Jenny Beeler

Gravel and sand quarry pits are the perfect disturbed habitats for establishment of invasive plants. Some invasive species are deliberately introduced during restoration of plant cover to control erosion and improve water quality. Seeds from invasive plants can contaminate both the active pit and storage piles, providing a pathway for future infestations at construction sites throughout the region. Adapting forms and procedures in use at Yellowstone National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has begun working with quarries used by the park to survey their facilities for invasive species and recommend improvements to minimize seed contamination. Sample inspection protocols and forms, a list of restoration seed mixes to use and seeds to avoid, plus FHWA guidelines on invasive species are below.

Gravel & Sand Pit Protocols for Weed Inspection
Gravel & Sand Pit Weed Conditions Rating Key
Gravel & Sand Pit Weed Inspection Form
Gravel & Sand Pit Restoration Seed Mix Recommendations
Federal Highway Administration Guidelines on Invasive Species

Workshops & Seminars

During the year, TN-EPPC may host one or more workshops or seminars, including our annual meeting, at various locations around the state. These events include topics on invasive plant identification, management recommendations, chemical control, and alternative landscaping options, as well as updates on TN-EPPC’s projects and regional and national issues that impact our state. Commercial pesticide applicator recertification points are usually available in several categories.

PowerPoint Presentations

TN-EPPC board members are often available as speakers for interested groups. The Council has developed presentations on the general issue of invasive plants, native plant alternatives for gardens and landscapes, homeowners off-the-shelf herbicide application, and mapping of invasive species in Tennessee. PDF files of four slide presentations may be viewed below. To request a guest speaker or to use one of our presentations, please contact us.

Controlling Invasive Plants in Your Landscape
Invasive Plants 101
Sustainable Landscaping: Making Informed Choices

Education – Classroom Teacher Resources

In 2008, Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Environmental Education created an activity guide and video on invasive species. Noxious Neighbors: Invasive Species in Our Backyards features 11 classroom activities variously suitable for grades K-12 and includes correlations to Tennessee’s science curriculum standards and a glossary. The video “If It’s Green, It’s Good?” may be used in conjunction with the activity guide. These resources were funded in part by the National Park Service’s Challenge Cost Share Program.

Noxious Neighbors Activity Guide

Download the video – If It’s Green, It’s Good?

If It’s Green, It’s Good? Invasive Species in our Backyards from Margie Hunter on Vimeo.

Invasive Weed Awareness Week

TN-EPPC sponsors Invasive Weed Awareness Week in Tennessee (TN-IWAW) each year as an opportunity to educate the public on this important issue. In 2009, with the support of 47 organizations and businesses in the state, we received a State Proclamation from Gov. Bredesen declaring Feb. 23-28, 2009, our first Invasive Weed Awareness Week. Our supporters organized 12 invasive plant removal projects across the state during that week. TN-EPPC sent all information to broadcast and print media statewide.

The Second Annual TN-IWAW in 2010 was Feb. 22-27, and we received the support of 58 organizations/businesses. Rep. Kent Coleman and Sen. Steve Southerland introduced bills in the General Assembly for a Joint Legislative Resolution declaring these dates as Invasive Weed Awareness Week in Tennessee. We encouraged our supporters to organize an invasive plant removal project.

Public Tips & Guides

TN-EPPC Invasive Plant List

Wildland Weeds, a quarterly magazine for Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council, published an insert featuring TN-EPPC’s revised plant list. It includes a brief explanation of the selection criteria and category definitions.

TN-EPPC Plant List from Wildland Weeds

Invasive Plant Removal Projects

Invasive plant removal events are a great way to involve the community in your organization, introduce them to native plant and animal species in a natural setting, and educate them about threats from invasive species. TN-EPPC developed a set of practical steps and guidelines, Organizing Volunteer Invasive Plant Removal Projects, to help you plan an event in your area.

Boot Brush Interpretive Signs for Trails

Boot brush interpretive sign installed by SACWMP on the Appalachian Trail in Hot Springs, NC.

Southern Appalachian Cooperative Weed Management Partnership (SACWMP) developed interpretive signage for trailheads along the Appalachian Trail, installing three in Madison County, NC, near Hot Springs. The signs describe the threat exotic invasive plant species pose to natural areas and picture six common invasive species. A boot brush is mounted at the base of each sign to encourage hikers to scrub mud and debris from their boots before entering the trail. The signs are designed to educate the public to the role humans play in spreading invasive plants.

To prove the efficacy of the project, dirt was collected from these brushes, placed in sterile pots, and watered. Seedlings of invasive species, such as Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimenium), as well as native plant species quickly germinated. The signs accomplish two goals: the spread of harmful species is at least slowed while hikers learn about invasive plant ecology.

John Odell of SACWMP, developer of the sign, has provided basic construction guidelines other groups may use to build signs for their area. TN-EPPC can assist with sign text and photos (as shown at right) if needed.

Homeowners’ Guides

Along with the University of Tennessee and Southern Appalachian Man and Biosphere Cooperative, TN-EPPC drafted an Invasive Plant Management Guide for homeowners tackling heavily infested property. Strategies for larger scale undertakings will help make the task more manageable.

TN-EPPC plans to develop planting guidelines for Homeowners Associations in an effort to curb the use of non-native invasive species in planned landscapes and encourage an ecological approach with native plantings. Suggestions for this project are welcome.

Ecological Impacts of Invasive Plants

Invasive plants pose a number of ecological threats to natural systems. At their worst, invasive plants alter ecosystem operation and the services provided, decrease native biodiversity, increase risks to threatened and endangered species, and impose a high financial burden for control once they have spread. In addition, invasive plants often necessitate the use of chemical applications, can increase risks to natural areas from storm and fire damage, crowd out native habitats along rights of way, invade a variety of native habitats, overtake and damage structures, open spaces, powerlines, shade trees, lawns, and gardens, and are responsible for a loss of local sense of place and aesthetics.

TN-EPPC is collecting a comprehensive list of specific ecological impacts, particularly with wildlife. When finished, it will be posted here. Suggestions for this list are welcome.

Nursery Calling Cards

The power of the consumer is an important tool that can be used to influence the plant stock carried by garden centers and nurseries. Businesses are quick to respond to the needs and interests of their customers. TN-EPPC has developed a small card gardeners and landscapers can use when visiting their local retail nursery. Simply note any invasive plant(s) carried by the nursery on the card and leave it with the owner or staff. The card states you don’t use plants known to be invasive in Tennessee, notes the invasive species being sold there, and asks the nursery to please consider discontinuing the sale of these plants. On the opposite side is a note inviting the nursery to visit TN-EPPC’s Web site and learn more. The Tennessee Nursery Calling Cards can be easily printed and cut (5 cards to a page). Carry a few when shopping for plants.


Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Pest Plant Rule 2009

USDA Q37 Update, 2009
The United States Department of Agriculture recently proposed revisions to quarantine regulations covering the importation of plants for planting (nursery stock). When this quarantine (known as Q37) was first written, plants came to the United States from only a few foreign locations, were imported by nurseries in low numbers as germplasm starter material, and required treatment for pests. National plant distribution was slow. Today, plants from worldwide locations come to the US in unlimited consumer ready quantities, and are treated only when quarantine pests are found. The USDA has proposed a comprehensive review and modernization of Q37 led by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The new proposal created the “not authorized pending pest risk assessment” or NAPPRA category that would help screen plants for their invasive potential. During the open comment period in 2009, TN-EPPC submitted a letter of support for this overhaul of Q37.

Local Codes and Ordinances
Local municipalities are urged to consider the impacts of invasive species along waterways and roadsides or in parks. Several are examining ways to minimize invasive plants and encourage native plantings. Here are two examples.

Town of Pittman Center, Sevier County, Ordinance for Invasive Plant Management

Murfreesboro Storm Water Management Code Draft

Wildland Weeds, the official quarterly publication of the Florida and Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Councils and all affiliated chapters, is now available online, including all back issues dating to 1997. Articles cover current research, invasive plant biology, ecology and control methodology, taxonomy, impacts of exotic pest plants, and case studies. Wildland Weeds Library

Here are three excellent field guides on the identification and control of many of the invasive plants on TN-EPPC’s list.

Tennessee Management Manual

Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests by James H. Miller

Newly Revised A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests by James H. Miller

A Management Guide to Invasive Plants in Southern Forests by James H. Miller, Steven T. Manning, Stephen F. Enloe

Invasive Weeds of the Appalachian Region, UT Extension

A paper copy of Invasive Weeds of the Appalachian Region is available for $10 at the link provided.

Mistaken Identity? Invasive Plants and their Native Look-Alikes: An Identification Guide for the Mid-Atlantic

There are many excellent informational Web resources for further research.

Center for Invasive Plants Management
Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health – Bugwood Network
Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health –
Center for Plant Conservation – St. Louis Declaration
Invasive Plant Control
National Invasive Species Council
Natural Areas Association
Protect Your Waters
The Nature Conservancy Invasive Species Initiative
The Nature Conservancy, Tennessee
University of Tennessee Herbarium
USDA National Invasive Species Information Center
USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species
Weeds Gone Wild Fact Sheets