The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, June 07, 2016 10:02 pm

ACRES leading battle to obliterate stiltgrass

Journal Gazette

ACRES Land Trust is working with land management partners to eradicate Japanese stiltgrass, a non-native invasive plant common to southern Indiana and the eastern United States and newly identified in northern Indiana late last fall.

In January, the local nonprofit temporarily closed its Little Cedar Creek Wildlife Sanctuary to prevent the spread of the invasion throughout the region.

"We are meeting with the Allen County Highway Department to coordinate our plan of attack with mowing and spraying," Casey Jones, director of land management for the local nonprofit land trust, said in a statement.

"Spring rain has boosted native plant growth around the invasive plant making spraying ineffective at this time.

"As a warm-season grass, Japanese stiltgrass will bolt when surrounding vegetation growth slows. So, we’ll encourage it, letting it grow to about 12 inches and then mow it just before it goes to seed, preventing it from spreading. From there, we’ll watch for dormant seeds to emerge over the next few years."

Japanese stiltgrass can crowd out native plants, reducing tree regeneration and slowing the growth of tree seedlings and existing plants, creating a monoculture. It is an annual, spread by seed. Japanese stiltgrass thrives in a variety of soil and light conditions. This spring, ACRES said it saw success spraying large patches of the invasion with a grass-specific herbicide.

Local partners in treating the outbreak and monitoring natural areas for the plant include The Nature Conservancy, Indiana DNR Division of Nature Preserves, Allen County Highway Department, Fort Wayne Parks, Fort Wayne Trails and Little River Wetlands Project. The Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society and the Olive B. Cole Foundation are funding partners.

Jones and ACRES’ land management interns will spend at least 560 hours through October on the stiltgrass project.

A private contractor will help ACRES assess the impact Japanese stiltgrass has on local flora.

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