City Trees

March - April 2012

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R O U N D T A B L E Emerging Invasive Plants ... and Good News in the Fight T he problem of invasive, wild Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) hybrids has not faded away in the five years since the Columbia, Missouri Parks Department launched the "Stop the Spread!" cam- paign. The good news is that in addition to the significant increase in awareness within our community about the consequences of planting ornamental pears, the cam- paign has propelled policy change within our own munici- pal government and helped us strengthen and build both alliances and support to confront this issue. Among the many non-profit and governmental agen- cies we have partnered with to spread the word, the Missouri Community Forestry Council and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) have both been particularly ready to lend a hand. MDC Urban Forester Ann Koenig, for example, wrote an informative article about the Callery pear menace and Columbia's "Stop the Spread!" campaign for the MDC's popular maga- zine, Missouri Conservationist (see mag/2011/03/stop-spread). Cohesion among City of Columbia departments address- ing this issue has also grown since the alarming spread of Callery pear hybrids became abundantly clear. For instance, the City Water and Light Department's "Trade- a-Tree" program no longer offers 'Aristocrat' pears as one of the replacement choices for electric custom- ers. City Arborist Chad Herwald, in the Community Development Department, is working to update the landscaping ordinance by removing Callery pear species from the list. In the meantime, he has notified develop- ers and contractors that landscape plans submitted for review that include ornamental pears will not be given the green light. The talented folks in the City of Columbia's Public Communication Department created a terrific video that highlights the Parks Departments efforts in working with both non-profit organizations such as Missouri River Community Network and federal agencies such as the USFWS to rid Columbia's Forum Nature Area of hybrid Callery pear seedlings. (http://gocolumbiamo.granicus. com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=295) Progress continues as we develop a better understanding of exotic invasive plant species and management tech- niques for their control. The University of Missouri Weed Science Program shares their expertise and provides 20 A germination study found an average 89% germination rate for both wild and cultivated pear seed collected in Columbia, Missouri. Photo by Brett O'Brien recommendations on products for Callery pear control. In turn, we help the Weed Science Program by allowing graduate research projects on selected areas of City of Columbia park property. These projects include examin- ing the seed biology and control of bush honeysuckle as well as chemical application trials on both Callery pear and sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata). The path forward will likely involve additional collabo- ration, such as engaging nurseries and landscaping firms and others in the green industry. I believe as the invasiveness of ornamental pears becomes more self- evident, both the green industry and the general public will turn to municipalities and government agencies for greater guidance and leadership on this issue. The opportunity is available now for municipal foresters and natural resource managers to serve as models of good stewardship. Stop the Spread website: ParksandRec/Parks_and_Facilities/stopthespread.php —Brett O'Brien, Natural Resources Supervisor, Columbia, Missouri City Trees

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