Oregon’s natural, agricultural and horticultural environments are threatened by undesirable, non-native species. Invasive species are a particularly dangerous type of pollution, biological pollution. Once established in new environments, invasive species crowd out native plants and animals. It is clear that Oregonians already spend millions of dollars annually on controlling invasive species and lose even more millions to lost productivity from damaged habitats. Simple steps involving prevention and removal of these invasive species will benefit all Oregonians.
(How will they benefit them, specifically? ) Invasive plants are introduced species that can thrive in areas beyond their natural range of dispersal. These plants are characteristically adaptable, aggressive, and have a high reproductive capacity. Their resistance combined with a lack of natural enemies often leads to outbreak populations. According to the National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC) more than 50,000 non-native species have been introduced to the United States throughout our history (NISIC).
Some of these are even introduced on purpose, such as for erosion control, exotic pets or as landscape plants for gardens. (For example? And this might be a good spot for a new paragraph to break up the thought process. ) Fortunately, only a small fraction of introduced species become invasive. In fact most of these non-natives have been beneficial. For example, corn, wheat, rice, and other essential food crops along with poultry, cattle, and other livestock were all introduced species – but they’re not invasive.
Yet the ones that are invasive are causing irreversible damage everyday to precious wildlife and natural areas that are disappearing because of these invasive species. Almost 50% of the species on the threatened or endangered listing are there because of the direct impact of non-indigenous species (Pimentel, et al. 2004). (This is a powerful point. I like it. Now I’m definitely interested. ) Across the country, boaters are facing lakes closed to recreational use as the result of invasive plants. (Like what? ) Homeowners are finding houses destroyed by Subterranean Formosan termites.
Here in Portland, hikers find English Ivy suffocating their favorite parks creating deserts of ivy where nothing else can grow. (Good use of examples here. ) (New paragraph? )The Portland Bureau of Environmental Services indicates that there are over eleven invasive weeds in the Portland area (PBOES). These weeds, like the ivy can cause serious damage to water quality, fire spread, biodiversity as well as fish and wildlife habitats. In addition the costs of damages the invasive species cause have great impacts on the community.
The Oregon Invasive Species Council estimates that the 21 invasive plant species in Oregon reduce personal income by $83 million per year (OISC). These costs come in the form of lost crop and livestock production, control efforts, property value damage, and reduced potential for exporting. Luckily, individuals in Oregon can make simple changes that can effectively block the pathways of invasion. One of the solutions of the invasive plant problem in Portland is “Naturescaping”. Starting in your own backyard, or front lawn, Naturescaping or Plant-Native emphasizes selecting the plant that grows naturally in the area.
(Good presentation of a proposed solution. ) Getting exotic flowers, trees, and grasses to grow where they are not supposed to takes a lot of energy, chemicals, and hard work. Naturescaping is also easier than what we know as landscaping since native plants evolved to grow under local conditions, they do not require that the area be changed. Native plants do not need to be watered (except during planting), do not require fertilizer and are not prone to the diseases of many industrial plants (Plantnative).
Since not everyone knows which species are good or bad, native or invasive, programs such as the Naturescaping for Clean Rivers hosted by East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District teach Portlanders how to landscape with native plants through free workshops (DSCD). By using plants that would naturally grow in Portland we are able to eliminate the danger of bringing in invasive plants that could take over our natural areas, and also save money on water and energy spent. In addition, every little bit you do helps your watershed, your community, and the environment as a whole.