GARY | Local land managers agree it is important to control invasive plant species, but say it is getting increasingly difficult to find the funds to make that happen.
About 50 land managers with local municipalities, nonprofit groups, industries and state and federal agencies gathered Wednesday at the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education for a summit and roundtable discussions on invasive plant species.
Paul Quinlan, stewardship program manager for the Shirley Heinze Land Trust, said invasive species threaten biodiversity, contribute to flooding and erosion and impact recreation.
Many land managers in attendance said they are working to keep invasives at bay but are hampered by budget and staff cuts.
Derek Nimetz, regional ecologist with the Lake Michigan Coastal Region of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, said native plants "have a low cost of maintenance" in part because they require less watering.
"Everyone's wallet is tight, whether public or private," Nimetz said.
Maggie Byrne, grants specialist with the Lake Michigan Coastal Program, said local grant funds are available and are often maximized through partnerships.
Byrne said grant funds recently allowed Dune Acres, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, to remove cattails on 28 acres and replace them with native sedge plants.
Nimetz said once land managers remove invasives, replacing them with natives is key.
"Lots of times we try to replant with seeds collected from within 100 miles of a location," Nimetz said. "We want to make sure we keep Indiana rich in its natural heritage."
The event was sponsored by the Indiana Coastal Cooperative Weed Management Area.