It's easy to drive along Indiana highways or visit a park and see invasive species and think that a particular public agency doesn't know about invasive species or doesn't care about managing them on their property. A recent post in the Indiana Native Plant Society (INPS) Facebook group reminded me that that isn't necessarily the case and that there are ways we can support these organizations in their invasive species and land management goals with just a call or email.
Per the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) website, "INDOT maintains more than 60,000 acres of medians and roadsides along Indiana’s roadways and strives to balance safety, costs, environmental protection, and aesthetics when maintaining roadside vegetation. INDOT’s vegetation management focuses on improving safety along highways by maintaining vegetation at a safe height for driver visibility. Vegetation management practices also preserve natural wildlife habitat and plants, control or remove non-native and noxious plants, and improve the overall look of roadside rights-of-way, promoting greener crossroads." INDOT has a Mowing and Vegetation Management Plan that addresses invasive species but, to my understanding, their budget doesn't allow them to implement it fully. There's only so much money to go around and no shortage of infrastructure needs. The conversation in the INPS Facebook group pointed out how important and effective it can be for citizens to "report concerns" related to invasive species in INDOT right of ways. These reports influence how INDOT resources are spent managing specific areas and also show the legislature and decision makers that the people of Indiana care about invasive species management. Plus with 60k+ acres, INDOT can't possibly stay on top of what species are where - we can help by notifying them of problem areas (particularly important for troublesome species with narrow management windows like poison hemlock). Placing a call or filling out the online form about specific areas of concern is a quick and easy way to influence invasive species management and show support for INDOT in implementation of their vegetation management plan.
You can report a concern by calling (855) 463-6848 or by filling out the form on the INDOT website here.
If you are a Facebook user, consider joining the Indiana Native Plant Society group. The group is a great place to observe or participate in conversations about native plants (and invasives), plant identification, get recommendations for natives for specific growing conditions and much more. Join the Facebook group here.
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