There are many invasive plant species threatening the health of the Indiana dunes. Some of these species have established in the dunes and already caused significant damage to native plants, while some of these plants are not yet prominent in the region but are particularly aggressive and pose a great threat to the health of the dunes. Invasives plant species in the dunes region include:
Tree of Heaven
Save the Dunes is a member of the Indiana Coastal Cooperative Weed Management Area (ICCWMA) – an alliance that works to, “protect biodiversity and natural communities from the threats presented by invasive plants within the Lake Michigan Coastal Zone in Lake, Porter, and LaPorte Counties in Indiana through a coordinated approach.” Other members of ICCWMA include the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Save the Dunes, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Lake County Parks Department, the Northern Indiana Public Service Company, and The Nature Conservancy, who leads the group. The ICCWMA meets to discuss invasive species threats, control methods and ongoing projects, and potential collaborations and work days between groups.
The ICCWMA is partnering with Save the Dunes in our initiative to create a landscaping guide for dunes communities. The guide will help residents learn about invasives in their yards and how to control them and which native species to use in landscaping. Learn more about that project here.
Save the Dunes also works with the ICCWMA on projects to prevent new invasive species – Early Detection species. Because we do not want new invasives establishing in the dunes, the ICCWMA is working to train land managers and volunteers how to identify and report new invasives through EDD Maps, an app and computer program that alerts local ecologists about new invasives that need to be controlled quickly.
Working with the ICCWMA on preventing the establishment and spread of invasive species is critical for protecting the rich biodiversity of the Indiana dunes. Invasive species are aggressive and out-compete our unique native plant populations for resources such as sunlight and water. They can turn a biodiverse community supporting an abundance of wildlife into a monoculture and reduce the resiliency and functionality of our habitats.