Invasive plant control can cost landowners and resource management agencies hundreds of dollars to help eliminate or prevent the invasive species from spreading.
To help offset costs, the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District is working with public and private partners to provide financial assistance through Minnesota’s Cooperative Weed Management Area grant program. The grant program, administered by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, helps landowners and public entities control, treat and eradicate certain noxious weeds or invasive plants on their property.
Dennis Fuchs, Stearns County SWCD administrator, says working together with Bob Dunning, Stearns County agricultural inspector, allows the SWCD to reach more landowners and to provide assistance in controlling invasive species.
BWSR has awarded a CWMA grant to the Stearns SWCD every two-year cycle since the program’s inception in 2008. The first three grants were centered around a partnership with Kandiyohi SWCD. In 2014, the Stearns County SWCD applied for the grant individually. Since then, Dunning has executed 102 CWMA contracts for financial assistance in Stearns County.
Recently, a University of Minnesota Extension Master Naturalist spotted a new threat in Stearns County. Officials have now confirmed that a weed known as rough potato (Metaplexis japonica) was growing near Holdingford on the Lake Wobegon Trail. This species is an invasive vining milkweed plant that is native to eastern Asia and hasn’t been reported in North America since a 1958 sighting near Iowa.
Dunning mapped the vines and found the densest infestations along the South Two River near a baseball field.
Dunning worked with the Stearns SWCD to use CWMA funds to address the invasive plant and prevent it from becoming an ongoing concern. The Stearns County Parks Department, Conservation Corps of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture have removed thousands of seedpods to prevent further spread of rough potato.
Stearns County residents are asked to report invasive plant species to the Stearns SWCD. Agency staff will work with Dunning and other partners to provide weed mapping and education, and to facilitate the removal of plant species through either Integrated Pest Management or native plant restoration.
Contact the Stearns County SWCD at 320-251-7800, ext. 3, for more information and guidance.