Wet summer helps invasive plants spread

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - A wet summer has helped keep trees and plants quite green, but it's also brought on an unwelcome problem:

Phragmites is an invasive grass
Phragmites is an invasive grass

Invasive plants are spreading much more rapidly.

An overhead view from SkyView2, our new drone, shows the Bubolz Nature Preserve is an expansive property. And thanks to all the rain this summer, invasive plants species are on the move.

"They're all having wonderful growing seasons and moving across the landscape," Bubolz executive director Randy Tuma says.

"That steady precipitation is really seeing the invasive species creep into areas that weren't wet before," Tuma goes on. "Things like reed canary grass which right behind me here is now coming up hill out of what was a wet meadow into a higher area that's just been saturated this year because of the rain."

Other invasive plants and shrubs like buckthorn, crown vetch, white clover and phragmites are not only spreading but will soon drop seeds and become established.

"Once the invasives have a foothold, there is a lack of predation, there's a lack of competition, and they take over. They grow into the area and completely fill it with that plant forming what's called a monoculture, and at that point are very tough to eliminate."

Tuma advises homeowners to research invasive plants and learn how to identify them, treat them and stop them from spreading.

Across the preserve's 725 acres, that's the mission this summer.

"With the help of volunteer support we have hundreds of bodies, thousands of hours going into this project," Tuma says. "We may not ever eliminate them, but we want to make sure that we can keep them at bay to make sure the plants you and I grew up with are still here when our kids, our grandkids have the opportunity to explore and learn as well."