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Petition draws attention to ‘dirty dozen’ of invasives

The state of Indiana is looking to review the regulations on invasive plant sales.

Allison Lund, Indiana Prairie Farmer Senior Editor

July 9, 2024

3 Min Read
An aerial view of a landscape with Callery pear trees
STILL LEGAL: The sale of Callery pear remains legal in Indiana until it is reevaluated and controlled with new regulations. The state and landowners currently pay to control this invasive species. Daviess-Martin CISMA

You may be tempted to report your local home improvement store when you see rows of Callery pear or burning bush for sale in the garden center. Before you do this, it is worth noting that it is still legal to sell these invasive species.

Most people don’t know these invasive species are not banned, though they pose risks to native plants, according to Emily Finch, invasive species specialist for the soil and water conservation districts in Martin, Daviess and Orange counties in Indiana.

“People know they are invasive, but they don’t realize they aren’t regulated,” Finch says. “I’ve talked to a lot of folks who didn’t realize that burning bush, for example, was still allowed to be sold.”

Ellen Jacquart, Indiana resident and former president of the Indiana Native Plant Society, created the “Dirty Dozen” petition to bring awareness to some of these highly invasive species, including Callery pear and burning bush. These species currently are not regulated, and the petition is working to help push a pending rule amendment that would ban the sale of the listed invasive plants.

Lack of funding

Although it is widely known that these species are invasive, low funding at the state level has stalled reevaluation and further regulations. Finch explains that the hope was to create a regular cycle for evaluating invasives and updating bans, but the last changes were made back in 2019.

“I don’t think anyone thought it would take quite this long,” Finch says. She adds that the plan with the initial regulation was to omit Callery pear from the list of banned invasive species, with the hope that this would push the initial rule through more quickly and open the door for amendments that would include Callery pear and other species.

There was a fear that including Callery pear in the last cycle of banned species would create a significant negative economic impact. However, the opposite seems to be true. The state and landowners are now having to pay to control that species.

“I don’t think that was part of the economic analysis,” Finch adds.

Restoring trust

In the meantime, Finch explains that bringing awareness to these invasive species awaiting regulation has helped with control efforts. Several SWCDs have played large roles in promoting programs that replace invasive plants with native species, spreading the message through billboards and matching landowners with cost-share programs that help them remove invasive species from their property.

“We’ve kind of responded from the grassroots level with a lot of education and outreach because we’re not there yet,” Finch says.

A billboard against invasive plant species

Finch sees efforts like the Dirty Dozen petition and the programs she works to bring to landowners helping to restore the trust that was lost when landowners discovered some of these highly invasive species were not controlled.

“They had this initial trust that if it is being sold, it must be OK, and now they’ve realized it’s so much more complicated than that,” Finch explains. “It would be really nice if we could restore that trust.”

For now, Finch says the best thing you can do to push progress along on this issue is speak to your elected representative, as well as sign the petition.

Read more about:

Invasive Species

About the Author(s)

Allison Lund

Indiana Prairie Farmer Senior Editor, Farm Progress

Allison Lund worked as a staff writer for Indiana Prairie Farmer before becoming editor in 2024. She graduated from Purdue University with a major in agricultural communications and a minor in crop science. She served as president of Purdue’s Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow chapter. In 2022, she received the American FFA Degree. 

Lund grew up on a cash grain farm in south-central Wisconsin, where the primary crops were corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. Her family also raised chewing tobacco and Hereford cattle. She spent most of her time helping with the tobacco crop in the summer and raising Boer goats for FFA projects. She lives near Winamac, Ind.

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