Comments for Resolve Chapter 21 Directing the MDAFRR to Study Invasive Terrestrial Plants Species
Notes From Public Meeting September 5, 2007
The legislature passed Resolve Chapter 21, Directing the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources to Study Invasive Terrestrial Plant Species this year. One requirement of the resolve was to get input from stakeholders. To fulfill part of this requirement a public meeting was held in Augusta with fifteen stakeholders in attendance. A list of attendees is included at the end of this document. At the public meeting the group was requested to provide input regarding a process and criteria that should be considered when determining if a terrestrial plant is to be considered invasive. This information will be used as the Department puts together a report to the legislature by February 2008. During the discussion the following topics were brought up by the group and relevant comments have been included under each topic.
Topics and Comments
Criteria for invasiveness
- Criteria for invasiveness form others includes plants that produce a lot of seed, and can spread to new areas without the interference of people, they crowd out other species and there are not other species that can keep it in check, rapid re-sprouting
- If the plant can disperse it should not matter if dispersal is by natural or man made means
- Brings up issue of plants on lists in other states that may not be in Maine yet, criteria should not exclude plants that are not yet here, but may have potential for finding here in the future
- Need for data to back up any invasive plant list
- Criteria should include some proof that the plant meets the invasiveness standards
- Need the criteria for invasiveness so the list is not anecdotal and you can add plants in the future
- One possible criteria should be to look at how the plant functions in the habitat
Research and use the criteria that other states in New England have already established when developing their lists
- Other states have established criteria when developing there invasive plant lists; can we borrow what they have done?
- Need to research other New England states lists and criteria for establishing the lists. Look at their legislation and why they included the plants, determine if it applies to Maine habitat, health, and economic issues. Use this to define what is invasive and refine what others have done to apply to Maine
- Look at other states and how it fits into what we are doing with establishing criteria, but we don’t have to agree with what all the other states have done
- Massachusetts has 4 criteria for invasive (reads criteria from Mass law)
- Maine is a large state should consider different hardiness zones
Industry would like to allow the possibility of looking at plant cultivars when determining invasiveness
- We should consider cultivars of plants, some may be sterile or somewhat sterile and may not pose the same threat as the rest of the species of the same plant
- May need to plant species with a broad brush or at least start broadly until a plant (cultivar?) is proven innocent. It’s great to look at cultivars, but who is doing the research regarding their invasiveness and how is the research going to be funded?
- Should leave the door open to bring plants back that have been banned as a species so that a particular cultivar can be grown in the future
- If the criteria are followed by a cultivar and the cultivar does not meet the invasiveness criteria than allow it to be sold, but how do you distinguish this cultivar from others
Focus on impacts to natural areas
- Should look at places that want to preserve and look at the (invasive plant) management issues that they are having. Need to look at invasiveness in natural areas as opposed to backyards.
- Invasiveness is not defined in landscaped yards, but in unmanaged areas
- Places where there are few invasives that realistically can be controlled. It is frustrating when working on control to go to the local garden center and buy the plants being controlled. Most land trusts have list of plants that are problems for them on their lands.
- A rich flora does not exclude non-native plants, just don’t want problem plants
- Have to tell people not every non-native plant is invasive. Get people to focus on places that are rich in plant diversity, manage areas you want to preserve, focus on areas where you can make a difference
- In minimally managed habitats when removing invasive plants, takes away a food source for wildlife populations.
Need to further educate the public about invasive plants
- Education is the most important thing because people share plants, not all plants are sold at the nursery
- Nurseries need to be at the forefront of education
- Concern that it will take a really long time to do this the right way, but feel we are already behind with the laws and it is important to get a law in place as quickly as possible for educating the public.
- Behind with laws but not with percent of invasive plants being sold, sell less than in other places
- The purpose of a law should be to educate the public as much as regulate what’s being sold
- Tough to tell people that some plants are not good when they are beautiful
- Education is not done by the legislature, but up to garden clubs, nurseries and other organizations
- Hampden considering a tree ordinance. The general public does not want the “plant police.” How does industry educate landscapers and general public?
Nursery Industry comments
- We think that other states are further along (on invasive plant issues), but Maine had a voluntary system in place before anyone else. Some nurseries have already started reducing production of invasive plants. By pushing native plant material and not pushing invasive it reduces demand
- Don’t want to be a part of continuation of problems
- This is a place to start. Don’t have control to stop the problems that are out there
- If we create a law and affect (the nursery) industry, don’t want a law that only reduces plant stock available. The law should also be an educational tool.
- Only handful of plants will be an issue
- It is unrealistic to break the state into different hardiness zones. You have to say that if a plant is invasive in one part of the state it is invasive in all areas.
- Look at this as an opportunity, don’t look at it from a negative perspective, but an opportunity to do a better job with what is available and not based on any list that is created
- Maine already ahead of the game with nurseries
- New England not just Maine is ahead of the rest of the country, voluntary compliance (not selling invasive plants) is high. Businesses only sell plants because there is a demand for them.
- Awareness is our strength, not every exotic plant is invasive
- Are we not considering native plants at all as invasive? Have we discussed the extent of any regulation? (Talking about Hampden ordinance they are considering, Having an approved list of plants for landscapers to plant) Town has authority to make landscapers stick to a list of plants
- Talking about establishing criteria 1st, but maybe has to be done from a dual perspective and narrow down list to plants being sold through the landscape trade. Look at the plants and where they are invasive and determine the reverse criteria. Need to look at the plants and at the criteria at the same time
- Many of the invasive bad actors already in the landscape, how effective will legislation by for plants that are already here and already a problem?
List of Attendees
Zeb Strickland, Rachel Carson NWR
Ellen Blanchard, Public
Carol Smith, Garden Club Federation of Maine
Mark Faunce, Ornamental Horticulture Council
Diana Hibbard, UM Cooperative Extension
J. M. Tanner, BLA, BLRA
Jeff O’Donal, O’Donals Nursery
Bob Moosman, Maine DOT
Jan Santerre, Project Canopy
Toni Pied, Pine Tree State Arboretum
Theresa Kerchner, Kennebec Land Trust
Phil Stack, Entomologist
Bob Laroche, Maine DOT
Dale Pierson, Maine Landscape and Nursery Assoc., Pierson Nurseries
Rebecca Linney, Garden Club Federation of Maine, Groundnut Hill Nursery
Sarah Scally, ME Department of Agriculture
Ann Gibbs, ME Department of Agriculture
For more information regarding this effort please contact Ann Gibbs at 287-3891.
Notes prepared by Sarah Scally and Ann Gibbs 9/20/07.