Invasive plant species can cause harm to the economy, environment, and human health. Controlling the species can cost landowners, resource management agencies, and others, hundreds or thousands of dollars to help eliminate or prevent the invasive species from spreading. To help offset these costs, the Stearns County SWCD coordinates with public and private partners to provide financial assistance through the Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) grant. The CWMA program helps landowners and public entities control, treat, and eradicate certain noxious weeds or invasive plants on their property.
“Working together with the Stearns County Agricultural Inspector, Bob Dunning, allows the SWCD to reach more landowners and provide assistance to help control invasive species in the County,” said Dennis Fuchs, SWCD Administrator.
The Stearns County SWCD has been awarded a CWMA grant from the Minnesota Department of Soil and Water Resources (BWSR) every two-year cycle since the program’s inception in 2008. The first three grants were centered around a partnership with Kandiyohi SWCD and in 2014, the Stearns County SWCD applied for the grant individually. Since then, Stearns County Ag Inspector Bob Dunning has executed 102 CWMA contracts for financial assistance in Stearns County.
Recently, a University of Extension Master Naturalist spotted a new threat in Stearns County. Officials have now confirmed that a weed known as Rough Potato (Metaplexis japonica) was growing near Holdingford on the Lake Wobegon Trail. This species is an invasive vining milkweed plant that is native to eastern Asia and hasn’t been reported in North America since a 1958 sighting near Iowa. Dunning has mapped the vines and found the densest infestations along the South Two River near a baseball field.
Dunning has worked with the Stearns County SWCD to utilize CWMA funds to address this new threat and prevent it from becoming an ongoing concern. The -Stearns County Parks Department, Conservation Corps of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture have removed thousands of seedpods to prevent further spread of Rough Potato.
Working closely with County Agricultural Inspector Dunning and other partners, Stearns County SWCD staff can provide weed mapping, education, and facilitate the removal of plant species through either integrated pest management or native plant restoration. Through the on-the-groundwork of this partnership, and with these CWMA financial resources secured by the SWCD, landowners in -Stearns County can continue to control and eradicate new threats like Rough Potato in addition to ongoing fights against Wild Parsnip and Common Tansy.
If you discover a known invasive species in Stearns County, please contact the Stearns County SWCD at (320) 251-7800 ext. 3, for further information and guidance.