• Accokeek Foundation

Managing Invasive Plants? Have Faith.

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

Managing the spread of invasive plant species in your backyard can be a challenge. Managing the spread of invasive plant species in 200 acres of parkland can feel almost impossible at times. These plants are, by their very definition, hard to control. They can take over an area, outcompete the native plants, and throw the ecosystem completely off balance. So how do we take on the huge task of regenerating the indigenous cultural landscape of Piscataway Park and returning balance to the woodlands? Well, it all started with some Faith. 

Faith Haley graduates from Salisbury University.

Enter Faith Haley. A graduate of Salisbury University with a degree in Earth Science, Faith joined the 2019-2020 class of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps (CCC). Her mission was to spend one year at the Accokeek Foundation as the Natural Resource Coordinator and develop an invasive species management plan within the park. While much of her service year and careful planning were disrupted by a global pandemic that kept most staff and volunteers away from the park, Faith still delivered a framework to provide the Foundation with resources to manage invasive plants.

The framework, which was her CCC capstone project, focuses on three main management concepts: prevention, eradication, and control. But before we get into these concepts, let’s start with the basics. 

What is an invasive plant?

Invasive plant highlight: Multi-flora rose. Native range: Eastern Asia. Identification: long green or red stems, alternate branching, ovate serrated leaves. Management: mechanical controls include hand pulling roots, mowing, and destroying all removed plant material.

native species is a plant species that has developed over thousands of years within a specific ecosystem. 

Non-native species are plant species that are introduced to another ecosystem where they are not previously found. 

And invasive species are non-native plant species that aggressively establish within an ecosystem different from their own. They compromise the health of the ecosystem they infest and out-compete native plant species in that space. 

Humans—particularly European colonists—introduced a lot of non-native species to the area over the past 400 years, and as we look to regenerate the indigenous cultural spaces that represent a system in balance, our plan starts with the control of those species that are most destructive to their new environments.