Updated March 6, 2:07 p.m.
As spring approaches, Great Parks of Hamilton County is hoping for a little help in stopping the spread of a perennial problem. Natural Resources Director Jessica Spencer is asking park visitors to keep an eye out for invasive species.
"Some of them are easier to find than others, and that's why we're hoping to get the public involved, because we have over 17,600 acres, 80 percent of which is natural area," she says. "Obviously, it's difficult to monitor all of that all of the time. The more people who know what these invasive species look like the better chances we have of finding them early."
Invasive species crowd out native plants because they don't have any natural enemies.
Spencer says park visitors can help by volunteering for natural area management work and by keeping invasive plants out of their own yards.
"They could keep track of invasive species that they find on their phones, using applications like EDDMAP (Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System), so that allows them to identify invasive species and mark their location and distribution," Spencer says.
(EDDMap is used by professionals, but Great Parks recommends citizen scientists use GLEDN, which may be easier for some to use.)
When an invasive species is discovered, Spencer's team makes plans to deal with it for the long run. "We take note of the location and we gather our thoughts, because it might not be the right time of the year to do anything about it. We come up with a game plan. Lately we've been prioritizing areas by quality and then treating in those areas first."
She says treatment could involve anything from volunteer work groups pulling plants, to spraying with an herbicide.
At the Shaker Trace Nursery, Great Parks is offering tours on June 1 and October 5, and has an open house on July 27 to demonstrate efforts to restore native biodiversity.
The Ohio Invasive Plant Council keeps tabs on non-native species.