Invasive Species Control

The sad state of the Midwest is that most “natural” areas that have not been actively restored and managed have been overrun by invasive plant species. Fragmentation of habitats by development, introduction of numerous species from around the globe, prevention of wildland fires, and salting of roads have led to rapid displacement of high-quality native species by invasives. These invasive species are highly competitive, forming dense colonies that exclude all other species. An acre of healthy wetland with fifty species of plants could be reduced to three species. The loss of the highly diverse spread of native species then causes a loss of native birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and insects that relied on those species for food and shelter.

Each ecosystem type has its own set of invasives, though some especially aggressive species will cross boundaries and even transform one ecosystem into another. Different ecosystems and different species require different treatment methods to safely eliminate invasives while encouraging regrowth and establishment of native species. This makes controlling invasives almost as diverse a task as a healthy prairie community is!

Prescription Burning

When thinking about fire most people often see it as destructive event, the truth is that it is a necessary part of nature. Many ecosystems rely on fire as a means to control plants and shrubs that choke out the native vegetation. Prescribe fire is an important tool providing many benefits for restoring our natural plant communities. Fire is used to clear the ground of existing vegetation in preparation of seeding and planting more desirable plant species. The charred remains of the burned vegetation return nutrients to the soil, making them readily available for the next generation of natives. Burning allows native seeds to make better contact with the soil and therefore improves the chances of successful germination. The key growing part of most prairie plants is below ground, where the heat of the fire does not penetrate, after a fire the warm ground allows native grasses and wildflowers to begin growing for the incoming season.

Homer Environmental can provide you with a custom burn management plan regardless of the size of your property. From prairies, wetlands and woodlands our staff has hundreds of field hours and numerous certificates that allows us to provide a safe, effective and proper prescribe fire for you.

All of Homer Environmental, LLC prescribed fires are conducted with permits from the state Environmental Protection Agency and local fire departments. Before and after each prescribe fire Homer Environmental, LLC contacts local fire departments and police departments. We provide written notification to commercial and residential addresses adjacent to the burn site when required.

Herbicide Application

Herbicides are a critically necessary component to managing invasive species. Many aggressive species spread far too rapidly and easily for any form of plain mechanical control to keep up, or are simply not damaged enough by it unless such extreme measures are taken that the area is totally destroyed – in which case, invasive species will be the quickest to regrow into the area.

Homer Environmental uses a wide range of herbicides, herbicide equipment, and techniques in order to selectively kill undesirable species while minimizing damage to desirable plants. Our fully-licensed staff are trained and experienced in plant ID skills necessary to pick the best herbicide and application method for each setting. Whether hand-wicking in a sensitive wetland, backpack spot-spraying in an established prairie, or spraying out a Phragmites ditch with an ATV, we always keep the goal in mind of a healthy native plant community.

Mowing

Many of the fastest invaders of prairies can be suppressed simply by mowing at the right time. Newly established prairies can be especially overrun by weedy annual and biennial species that grow so thick that they block light to the fledgling native prairie plants. These are mostly perennial species that once established will hold their own against such opportunistic weeds. Homer Environmental utilizes pull-behind mowers for such large-scale mowing. In smaller or more established settings, hand-held brushcutters provide the opportunity for spot-mowing treatments that suppress the invasives while leaving adjacent native plants completely undamaged.

Seletive Clearing/ Brush Removal

Historically, most “forest” ecosystems in our area were more of an open oak-hickory savannah. Invasive species such as buckthorn and honeysuckle, and weedy species more native to other regions such as black cherry and box elder, have transformed most of our savannahs to dense forests which choke out the native undergrowth and prevent oak and hickory seedling growth.

Homer Environmental partners with Homer Tree Service to perform selective removal of undesirable tree species while leaving any surviving native species intact. In very sensitive areas, removal is performed by skilled chainsaw operators, while our state-of-the-art low-pressure clearing machinery can quickly turn large choked-up forests into pristine savannahs with surprising delicacy and accuracy. To prevent regrowth, Homer Environmental applies herbicides to the cut stumps and follows up with foliar treatments.

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