Alexandria Letter: Battling Invasive Plants

Alexandria Letter: Battling Invasive Plants

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

With regards to invasive plant management in Monticello Park, it is a mystery to me as to how some people can self identify as “avid birders” and have no awareness of the importance of a healthy eco-system made up of diverse native plants. It is not simply so-called “fanatics in the plant community” that recognize invasive plants as a huge problem, but rather federal, state, and local natural land managers as well as all the best-regarded conservation organizations, to include the Nature Conservancy, the Audubon Society, and the National Wildlife Federation.

On one very basic level, English Ivy and Winter Creeper are a threat to birds because they are a threat to trees. But monocultures of non-native invasives are terrible for another reason — they crowd out the native plants that our birds need to reproduce and survive. Approximately 96 percent of North America’s terrestrial birds rely on native insects to feed their young. These native insects have co-evolved with native plants and are largely unable to eat non-native exotic plants, invasive or not.

As a result, it is clear that caring about birds in any thoughtful and constructive way means also caring about native insects and native plants as well as working to improve the quality of what habitat remains.

So I applaud the city for taking the balanced measures it has taken in Monticello Park.

I am familiar with Invasive Plant Control, Inc. through the company’s work in a park in my neighborhood. The professionals from IPC used the least amount of herbicide to do the job. The glyphosate product used was carefully chosen and did not contain the much more concerning “inert” surfactant ingredients that the well-known Round Up product does. Their treatments were targeted enough to kill the invasive plants and leave directly adjacent native plants in good health.

In conclusion, I would urge the “avid birders” quoted in last week’s article to learn the basic facts about the habitat needs of the birds they profess to love.

Bonnie Petry