MACC Invasive Species Front Page
Introduction to Invasive Plants
Conservation Commission Jurisdiction of Invasive Plants
I.D., Ecology and Control of Invasive Plants
Site Invasive Plant Restoration and Replanting
Funding for Invasive Plant Control
Discuss Invasive Plants On-Line
 
Overview

Control of Invasive Plants
Control of invasive plants can be as easy as pulling a few weeds or can be a complex and expensive, multi-year project. The amount of work will depend on the extent of the invasive plant population, the traits of the target species, and the management goals. In general, preventing new infestations from becoming established and controlling small “satellite populations” are the highest priority. Complete eradication of a species from a site is rarely possible; control efforts that remove a large percentage of the invasive plants, free up growing space for native species, and reduce the requirement for follow-up control work are realistic goals. Long-term monitoring and follow-up control efforts will be required in almost all cases. Clarifying the management goal for the site can help set priorities. The goal of "enabling forest regeneration" could result in a much different plan for controlling invasives than if the goal is to "maintain and enhance viewpoints."

Prioritizing Sites
Due to the ecological and economic limitations on certain projects, prioritizing sites is very important. Highest priority efforts are the prevention of new invasions in un-invaded areas and removing invasive plants that are just becoming established in intact native plant communities. Native plant communities with “satellite” invasive plant populations can be protected with a low investment in labor and materials. Other high priorities are sites with rare plants or where ecosystem disturbances, such as lot clearing or road work, are planned. After the satellite populations are controlled, areas with higher numbers of invasive species should be targeted, especially sites with seed producing, invasive plants. Large sites that are completely dominated by invasive plants are often the last to be controlled. These sites should be expected to require higher investments for control and replanting of native species, and in some cases are not worth the effort or expense.

Defining Objectives
Invasive plant control is an ongoing, multiyear effort that requires careful planning for the initial control work, follow-up, and restoration of native species. Sites will require different levels of treatment ranging from minor hand-pulling of invasive plants to complete ecosystem restoration. Determine what the goal(s) of a project are. Is the goal to protect established, native plants around a construction site? Protect rare species? Stop an invasive population from spreading or fruiting? Restore a functioning native plant community?

Assessing Resources and Ecological Limitations
It is very important to asses whether the project goals are realistic given the ecological characteristics of the site and the resources that are available for control. The feasibility of a project will be determined by ecological factors, such as the difficulty of controlling a particular species, and the availability of funding and labor. It is important to predict the economic and/or volunteer resources that will be available for the initial control project, for planting native species, and for ongoing maintenance. Also, some sites, such as wetlands, may have restrictions on the type of work that can be performed or require additional permits. All of these factors should be assessed before a project is undertaken.

Who Will Do the Work?
Volunteers, landowners or professionals? Given the scope of their jurisdiction, Conservation Commissions may oversee invasive plant control projects that are conducted by people with a range of skills and vested interests, such as landscape contractors, landowners, volunteers, and professional vegetation control specialists. The Commissioners need to be aware of the skills of the workers and their interest in doing a thorough job. Some contractors and landowners may be knowledgeable, and concerned about native and invasive plants while others may lack the proper knowledge and are only interested in meeting the minimal requirements outlined in the permit. Requiring a management plan in the permitting process will help the Commission judge the knowledge and commitment of the applicant and provide a guide by which to measure progress. For more information on management plans please click here (link to Conservation Land Management section).

Pesticide Licensing
Chemical herbicides are a common method of controlling invasive plants. Herbicide use is carefully regulated by the state of Massachusetts and by Federal laws. In general, landowners can apply unrestricted herbicides on their own property outside of the wetland buffer zone; permits may be required within the buffer zone. A pesticide applicator’s license is required to apply restricted pesticides, or to apply any pesticide on land owned by another. For more information on pesticide categories and the laws governing their use of pesticides in Massachusetts please see more about Pesticide Licensing.

Overview of Control Methods
Conservation commissions may oversee different types of invasive plant control projects on a range of sites. While Commissioners are not expected to become experts on control, they will need to be familiar with the common methods. This section provides Commissioners with a general overview of control methods and when they might be appropriate.