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Conservation Commission Recognizes National Invasive Species Awareness Week



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Newtown Conservation Commission embraces the week-long initiative of National Invasive Species Awareness Week (February 26-March 3), which seeks to raise awareness of invasive species, the threat they pose, and what can be done to prevent their spread. This initiative, powered by The North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA), supports local, state, tribal, federal, regional, and national organizations with help in combating this environmental threat.

Invasive plants are not indigenous to our region. Primarily introduced from other countries and determined by scientific evaluation to be invasive, they are disruptive in a way that causes environmental or economic harm … even harm to human health, as is the case with Japanese Barberry that harbors ticks and mice responsible for tick-related disease.

Some invasives were accidentally introduced; others introduced as ornamental landscape plants or for specific uses such as erosion control. The challenge is, many introduced plants have not behaved very well. They have escaped cultivation, populated woodlands and wild places and outcompeted native trees, plants, and shrubs. Connecticut has prohibited by statute, many of these plants; however, more plants with invasive tendencies are awaiting further evaluation.

Many characteristics of invasive plants give them a competitive advantage over indigenous (native) plants. They include rapid growth in a variety of conditions, high rate of reproduction, and seeds that disperse over wide distances. When disturbed, many are spread by vegetative fragments. Invasives also leaf out earlier and hold leaves longer than native species.

All these traits give them a competitive advantage. Without the natural controls on growth and reproduction that would normally occur in their native country of origin, they are unstoppable.

According to the CT Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG), some of the most egregious invasive plants are Japanese Knotweed, Oriental Bittersweet, Japanese Barberry, Autumn Olive, Mugwort and Common Reed to name just a few. All of these and more are pervasive in Newtown.

A complete list of CT invasive species can be found at cipwg.uconn.edu.

Newtown Conservation Commission is dedicated to the preservation and protection of Town-owned open space. Its members actively work to encourage healthy habitats and increase the diversity of native wildlife and vegetation.

For more information or to contact the commission to volunteer for invasive work days, visit newtownconservation.org.

Japanese Knotweed (left), Oriental Bittersweet (center), and Japanese Barberry are three egregious invasive plants, according to The CT Invasive Plant Working Group. All three are among invasives that are easily found in Newtown. —Bugwood.org photos
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