Controlling Invasive Plants through Community Engagement

Grants and Contracts Details


Kentucky has a wide range of invasive plants, with new invasive plants arriving regularly and known invasives continuing to be widely sold. Currently, the state lacks both information about the status of invasive plants (with no widespread monitoring network) and guidelines for determining which plants are invasive (the current list is unofficial and outdated). Support is needed to improve our understanding of invasive plant threats in the state and to change consumer and landowner behaviors to control invasive plants. We propose developing and mobilizing a network of trained members of the public to address invasive plants on two key fronts. First, we plan to develop an in-depth educational program targeted at engaged members of the public to promote invasive plant management. By using a train-the-trainer model, focusing on providing advanced training to master naturalists, master gardeners, and others with strong community ties, to monitor for invasive plants, discourage landscape use of invasive plants, and rapidly respond to new infestations. Through this program we will host 8 field days at natural areas throughout Kentucky to demonstrate invasive species identification, teach techniques for detecting invasives and provide tools to facilitate reporting. After this initial training, we will empower newly trained leaders to host similar events in their communities to build capacity to identify, report, and work to stop the spread of new invasive plant species. Second, we plan to strengthen the capacity for invasive plant control by updating and modernizing the KY invasive plant species list, using the support of the newly trained leaders. This will move the state’s system from a more subjective one (with plants listed through consensus of a group of knowledgeable land managers) to a more objective system (adopting a new model recently developed through a regional working group to streamline invasive plant listing), necessary for any next steps in restricting invasive plants. Combined, these two efforts will set the foundation for future invasive plant management currently not possible due to a lack of information and infrastructure. Funds will largely be spent on the salary of a program coordinator to lead these efforts, working with Extension faculty at the University of Kentucky and in close partnership with the Kentucky Scope of Work, Crocker & Springer Richard King Mellon Foundation Invasive Plant Council and the Kentucky Division of Forestry. In addition, funds are allocated for travel, participant support for our trainees, educational materials, and a wide range of workshops for the public. Outcomes from the evaluations of curriculum, program delivery, and field days will help inform future activities of this specific program as well as providing insight for others initiating similar programs in other regions. While this work would be focused on Kentucky, the issues of our state are not unique and face many other areas in western Pennsylvania and much of Appalachia. The framework of this program could easily be copied and implemented in other regions. Increasing the awareness of the public along with the capacity to identify new invasive species will help limit the spread of current and new invasive species. Empowering community members to deliver this message will provide a separate and potentially more effective means at changing behaviors related to personal landscape choices and future advocates for changes in invasive management and regulations. Budget: $248,570 over 1.5 years (See detailed narrative and spreadsheet attached)
Effective start/end date6/1/2312/31/24


  • Richard King Mellon Foundation: $135,000.00


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