Last modified: Monday, April 16, 2007
U.S. Forest Service to honor IU conservation group
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Forest Supervisor's Partnership Award from the Hoosier National Forest branch of the U.S. Forest Service will honor five Indiana University faculty and staff for their collective work in developing and implementing control methods for non-native plant infestations. The ceremony takes place at 2:30 p.m. April 20 in the Atrium of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU Bloomington.
The award will be given by Hoosier National Forest Supervisor Kenneth G. Day to: Vicky Meretsky, SPEA faculty member; James Rogers of Bradford Woods; Stori Snyder of Hilltop Garden and Nature Center; Luke Flory, a doctoral student in biology; and Penny Volrich, SPEA staff member. A reception will follow the event, both of which are open to the public.
"The problems with non-native invasive species continue to escalate, and conservation biologists realize that if something isn't done, many of our native Indiana plants may be in jeopardy," Meretsky said. "This long-term partnership with the Forest Service provides learning opportunities for IU students and helps the forest with a major ongoing problem that threatens not only the ecological, but also the economic value of its ecosystems."
The work is the result of a partnership that began in 2004 between SPEA and the Forest Service to control non-native plant infestations in the Charles D. Deam Wilderness. The Hoosier National Forest provided $25,000 initially and an additional $25,000 in 2005. The effort covers three areas: control, education and research.
As part of the project, volunteers and students remove targeted plants by hand or with mechanical means. The objective of this removal is to reduce the vigor and size of these invasive plant populations in order to minimize the threat to native plants and wildlife. The program also will continue to monitor the areas for any additional growth of these plants.
The educational component of the project pairs Hoosier National Forest staff and IU's Hilltop Garden and Nature Center in a student outreach program targeting fourth through sixth grades. The program uses interactive programs and classroom presentations to teach students about invasive plants. Hilltop Garden and Bradford Woods are outdoor education facilities for the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies in the IUB School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
Program funding also supports a research effort to study the effects of Japanese stiltgrass on native plant communities led by Luke Flory, a SPEA graduate and doctoral student in IU's Department of Biology. Because the grass is a relatively new invasive species in Indiana, little is known about how it affects native trees and surrounding natural communities. Flory also is studying possible options for controlling the species and restoring forests that have been invaded by it.
The School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University is committed to teaching, research and service in areas such as public and nonprofit management, public policy, environmental science, criminal justice, arts administration and health administration. The school maintains continuing relationships with a large number of public agencies at all levels of government; public and private hospitals and health organizations; and nonprofit organizations and corporations in the private sector.