DEVELOPMENT OF A DECISION-SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR THE ECOLOGICALLY-BASED MANAGEMENT OF CHEATGRASS- AND MEDUSAHEAD-INFESTED RANGELAND
Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research
Title: The importance of education in managing invasive plant species
Submitted to: Ecology and Management of Annual Rangelands Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 5, 2010
Publication Date: February 9, 2011
Citation: Young, S.L., Sheley, R.L., Smith, B.S., Howery, L., Mcdonald, S., Westbrooks, R., Westbrooks, B., Lehnhoff, E. 2011. The importance of education in managing invasive plant species. 64th Ecology and Management of Annual Rangelands Proceedings, February 6-10, 2011, Billings, Montana. 64:469.
Invasive plant species can establish in diverse environments and with the increase in human mobility, they are no longer restricted to isolated pockets in remote parts of the world. Cheat grass (Bromus tectorum L.) in rangelands, purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria L.) in wet lands and Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop.) in wild lands are examples of the most common invasive plant species that are plaguing many regions in the US by creating dense monocultures over many thousands of hectares. Across the world, invasive plant species like water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms), cogon grass (Imperata cylindrica (L.) Beauv.), and mile-a-minute (Mikania micrantha Kunth) have choked waterways, altered fire regimes or caused the abandonment of farmland due to their dominating and persistent presence.
Clearly, the effects of invasive plant species have reached global scales and their related costs have been estimated in the billions of dollars. The question that has not adequately been addressed is whether landowners and managers are making significant progress in managing invasive plant species populations. Control techniques are widely available and include biological, chemical, cultural, and mechanical, yet invasive plant species continue to threaten many ecosystems on local and regional scales, particularly rangelands, wild lands, and grasslands.
One way to indirectly address the rapid advancement of invasive plant species is through awareness and education. Opportunities are needed to provide land owners and managers with the basic principles and practices related to invasive plant ecology and management. In addition, policy makers and the public need to be made aware of the seriousness of invasive plant species. Several short courses that focus on or include invasive plant species have been developed recently and could play a major role in educating individuals with broad backgrounds and experiences.
This poster will summarize these courses and speculate on their far-reaching effects. The most successful programs have started with awareness and then education. Maybe it is time to take a page out of one of the most successful public service announcements from the US Forest Service, which reminds us that "only you can prevent forest fires”.