The Knox County Soil and Water Conservation District helped lead the fight to make people aware of the threat posed by invasive plant species in Indiana. Ray Chattin, a woodlot owner, sawmill operator and farmer from Vincennes, was particularly instrumental in helping people realize these plants can cause harm to commercial woodlots across the state.
As a result of these early efforts, the fight against invasive species has picked up steam. The Natural Resources Commission enacted the Indiana Terrestrial Plant Rule in 2019, which makes it illegal for nurseries and stores in Indiana to sell 44 plants considered invasive. The sales ban went into effect in April 2020. Find the list of plants and learn more about the rule online.
In Knox County, in an effort led by the SWCD, county officials didn’t wait for the state ban. County officials passed a ban on selling invasive species in August 2018. That list of invasive species is longer than the state list, with 64 species no longer allowed to be sold within the county. The ordinance applies to plants and not seeds. It went into effect in 2020.
FIGHTING BACK: Willem Drews, with the Knox County SWCD, devotes his time to education about invasive species in Indiana.
“It took some time for stores and nurseries to learn about it and adjust, but overall, we’re seeing good compliance with the ban,” says Willem Drews, a specialist with the Knox County SWCD who spends his time educating people about various aspects of invasive species.
If these species are already in a home landscape, they don’t have to be removed, under either the Knox County or state rule.
“We’re concerned about making sure they’re no longer sold, and educating homeowners and landowners about why we need to control them,” Drews says. “Many of them can spread quickly, and they can take over a woodlot if they get established there.”
One of the important keys is to learn to identify the most common invasive species. Check out the pictures provided here. To learn more, visit knoxcountyswcd.com.