Let’s eradicate invasive plants in Polk County

Published 12:05 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Recent years have seen a significant increase in the number of invasive plants that are spreading throughout Polk County and threatening our native plant species. For most of us, kudzu is the most noticeable (and prevalent) of the invasives. However, there are many others such as English ivy, tree of heaven and bamboo that are choking out and killing our native plants.

In ways, the situation seems hopeless, but it is not. For many years now, a dedicated group of volunteers has been working to eliminate invasive plants from specific areas of Polk County. Funded by grants from the Polk County Appearance Commission (PCAC) and supported by Conserving Carolina, these volunteers have made real progress. Notable projects include Norman Wilder Forest, Vaugh Creek Greenway and Foothills Nature and Equestrian Center (FENCE). Wildflowers are returning to areas of Norman Wider that were previously covered in kudzu. This is an amazing sight to witness.

Have all the invasives been eliminated from these locations? No. Do some of the invasives return? Yes. This is an ongoing battle, but we can win it. This battle is being waged on public land by a small group of volunteers and by a handful of private landowners on their land. To win, we need more people to get involved and support these efforts.

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If you would like to get involved, contact the Polk County Appearance Commission (PCAC) via email at beautifulfoothills@gmail.com. PCAC partners with local governments, volunteers, and community groups to collectively support efforts that keep Polk County clean, beautiful, and inviting for all. The Commission works under the authority of the Polk County Board of Commissioners as an all-volunteer body serving in an advisory role. The Commission encourages community and civic leaders throughout the county to continue the effort to remove invasive plants and restore the native plants that have always made Polk County a special place to live and visit.

There are numerous websites that provide detailed information on invasive plants and their eradication. These include the North Carolina Invasive Plant Council (http://nc-ipc.weebly.com/nc-invasive-plants.html), the North Carolina Cooperative Extension (https://polk.ces.ncsu.edu/kudzu-and-other-invasive-species), and Conserving Carolina (https://conservingcarolina.org/get-rid-of-kudzu). 

The Polk County Commissioners have provided funds that allow the Appearance Commission to offer matching grant money for projects to remove kudzu and other invasive plants across Polk County. At present, the maximum matching grant amount is $1,000 per approved project. Matching grants will be made available by the Appearance Commission again this year to support projects that will remove kudzu and other invasives from public land or land owned by non-profit organizations. While kudzu on private land is eligible for grants, you can hire a professional licensed to apply herbicides to remove kudzu from your land.

Learn more and view information about past projects and download the required 2022/23 application at https://www.beautifulfoothills.org/kudzu-matching-grants. If you have questions about kudzu grants, please email beautifulfoothills@gmail.com. 

Submitted by Clyde S. Younkin