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Can the Tri-State remove a million invasive plants this year? That's one group's goal

red callery pear tree leaves and berries in the fall
Joshua Michaels
Callery pear trees can have pretty color in the fall, but they're highly invasive.

The Ohio River Valley Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (ORV CISMA) wants to get aggressive against a harmful environmental threat – invasive plant species. The organization wants to remove a million invasives by the end of the year.

"We think it's feasible," says Jessica Tegge, restoration program manager. "It's maybe a little aggressive, but we believe that we can do it together. And every year we just hope to gain more and more momentum."

Invasive plants are a big problem. They crowd out native plants, take away habitat for wildlife and can contribute to poor water quality in rivers and streams.

WVXU recently reported on a once-a-century study on the local plant landscape. It finds invasive species are on the rise and choking out many native plants in Southwest Ohio.

ORV CISMA wants everyone in its 22-county coverage area to participate. It will launch a web tool this summer to help track invasives as they're removed.

"Because this is such a pervasive problem we all need to work together on this, and that's one of the reasons why we're creating this tool — to bring a community together for this one common goal of (improving) our native habitats and preserving our natives," says Tegge.

Common examples include honeysuckle and Callery pear trees, but there's also Autumn olive, lesser celandine, wintercreeper and more.

"There's always alternatives. So say somebody likes the look of honeysuckle (because it) blocks the neighbors," Tegge says. "We encourage them to take it out, but then immediately replant — that's the best tactic you can do — with a native. There are lots of resources online."

The Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area covers 22 Tri-State counties including nine in Ohio (Adams, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, Highland, Montgomery, Scioto, and Warren); seven in Kentucky (Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton, and Pendleton); and six in Indiana (Franklin, Dearborn, Ohio, Ripley, Jefferson, and Switzerland).

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.