Starting Tomorrow: NC Invasives Awareness Week

English Ivy Overpowering a Dogwood

I told you about it here, but I wanted to remind everyone in North Carolina that the week of April 4-10, 2011 has been declared by the Governor of NC to be Invasives Awareness Week. The issue of invasive exotic species is an increasingly serious one throughout the United States, even the world.

And it most certainly is serious in the southeastern United States, especially in the Piedmont region, because so much land is being disturbed as millions of new folks continue to relocate here.

If you live in North Carolina, the North Carolina Exotic Pest Plant Council has set up a Web site about Invasives Awareness Week that lists all the groups across the state holding events to bring attention to this issue during the upcoming weeks. Find an event near you and go learn what you can do to help.

If you live in the southeastern US and you are interested in the health of the fields and forests that surround your homes and communities, I encourage you to educate yourself about this issue. Learn which space invaders are our biggest threats. Learn how to identify and eradicate them from your yards and gardens. The more of us who know about this issue and are willing to do something about it, the more we can all hope our native environments will withstand this exponentially increasing assault on them. A good place to start is the Web site of the Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council.

And if you’re wondering what invasive species have to do with piedmont gardening, I assure you the two subjects are intimately linked. Gardeners are contributing significantly to the problem by continuing to buy and plant invasive exotic species in their yards and gardens, and to tolerate those already growing there.

But even if your yard is free of invasive species now, it won’t be for long if we don’t take steps to protect surrounding woods and fields from further contamination by non-native space invaders. If our fields and forests continue to be degraded by invaders, much of what we love about the southeast Piedmont will begin to disappear. The first to go will be sensitive wildlife species as their food sources and habitats disappear.

I, for one, don’t want to live in a Piedmont without the summer song of Wood Thrushes in the shrubby shadows, or the caterpillar-devouring help of the myriad warblers that visit during the growing season.

The southeastern Piedmont is a beautiful place. That’s why so many people from other parts of the country and the world continue to move here. I pray that all of us — newcomers and native Piedmonters — will become increasingly wise stewards of these special lands.

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