Waging war on invasives

In a report from the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, out in Wisconsin, I read with interest about the "invaders" who are taking over valuable habitat and threatening all of nature's native species. The same is happening right here in Adirondack country; it is that blanket of flowers easily observed along our highways -- the purple loosestrife.

The Native Americans have declared war on the import of the invasive species that threaten their wild rice production and other wetland species, which they depend upon for both food and culture/spiritual purposes. They are attacking the purple loosestrife with both biological control and chemical control methods. They have found an ally in the galerucella beetles which feed on the bad plants. An annual "invasive weed pull day" also helps in some pockets of loosestrife growth. Volunteer adults, school children, and the Boys and Girls Club children join in the yearly effort. (Not a bad idea.)

Coincidentally, I opened the Hamilton County Express newspaper about the same week of the Indian news item, the last week in August, and there was conservation educator Caitlin Stewart releasing the same kind of beetles to eat the purple loosestrife along the Sacandaga River. The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District has also declared war on the loosestrife. They feel a threat to the economy and recreational enjoyment of the Adirondacks as well as the invasive plant affect. The spreading invasive loosestrife chokes out the Adirondack native vegetation that the resident wildlife depends upon for food, shelter and nesting. Fortunately, the beetles only feed on the loosestrife and will die off when their food runs out. It is a far better way to control the invasion than the time-consuming manual task and the herbicide efforts.

It has been a great growing season, not only for the invasive plants, but also for much of the Adirondack greenery. The greenery that burst forth last spring has enjoyed what rain and sun that we had over the summer. In many places, nature's growth is thicker than ever. What has burst forth in nature's garden continues to fascinate me. Left alone, you can never predict what will take hold and stake a claim to a section of open land. In my observations, it can be completely different from one year to the next in any one location.

I often let whatever will be, will be on a small plot on our three-acre property. I once removed a decorative bush and simply raked off the spot and left it to Mother Nature. It has offered a varied show of differing plants over the years. It began with assorted grasses and weeds and then graduated into a ragweed garden. The ragweed was then squeezed out by a thick growth of thistle plants with their purple flowers. After a couple years of enjoying the purple canopy, we got some yellow; the garden blossomed with a thick growth of golden rod. It is one of nature's mysteries where those seeds come from to provide that assortment of varied growth, year after year. I wonder what next year will bring.

A word should be said about the greater Adirondack country -- the land that we are seeking to preserve for years to come. Seek a high place anywhere inside the blue line and gaze off into the rolling hills and mountains and you will see an ocean of greenery. Little can be seen of man's intrusion from many of the mountaintops, and, thanks to nature's ability to supply that growth from year to year, we have the Adirondacks to bring joy and re-creation to our lives. It is good that we show concern about the invasion of unwanted species and join together to keep safe what we have.

DON WILLIAMS was born and raised

in the Adirondacks. He is a retired

Gloversville school principal and magazine author. He lives in Gloversville.