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May marks the Fourth Annual


Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month (ISAM), dedicated to increasing public awareness about invasive species and providing solutions for dealing with this issue. Cathy McGlynn, coordinator for the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership, says, “People need to care about invasive species for many reasons. Some species pose seri- ous health risks to animals and humans, such as the giant hogweed, which produces a phytophototoxic sap that causes severe burns when affected skin is exposed to sunlight; and leafy spurge is toxic to cattle.” Invasive species can decrease native biodiversity, such


as when a native plant species that a particular butterfly depends on is outshaded by an invasive plant, so the butterfly has to look else- where for a place to oviposit its eggs and get its larvae fed, as well as find nectar for itself.


Some species affect entire ecosys- tems and nutrient cycling, such as buckthorn, which is


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The Membership Trading Community Japanese Barberry


is associated with higher erosion rates due to rapid leaf litter decomposition and prohibiting growth of native plants in its vicinity.


Other species decrease or prohibit recreational use of


certain areas. Anglers, boaters and kayakers don’t want to deal with the large, dense tangles of vegetation that Eurasian watermilfoil produces in regional lakes and ponds. Illinois spends millions of dollars to control and eradi-


cate invasive species every year in natural and agricultural areas, and people can become involved in ISAM in many ways.


n Get informed and learn to recognize and report inva- sive species that are found in the region.


n Make smart choices for garden and landscape areas by purchasing native plants and replacing invasive plants.


n Remove seeds and soil from tires, shoes, shoelaces, clothing and pets when entering and leaving natural areas.


n Clean any visible aquatic animals and plants from equipment or boats; drain bait buckets and bilge water; and dry aquatic equipment and vehicles for several days between uses.


n Volunteer to join a workday with volunteer stewards to help control invasive plants at a favorite natural area, meet like-minded people and enjoy some time outdoors.


For a list of invasive species and target species, visit niipp.net.


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