Our members recently approved a letter that will now be sent on to our local and statewide representatives concerning the proliferation of invasive plants in Connecticut and the lack of legislative action (over the past 20 years) to address this threat to our natural habitats. The complete text of the letter offers background and a list of five realistic recommendations.
The Rowayton Gardeners Club wishes to express our concern about the proliferation of invasive plants in Connecticut and the lack of action on the part of the State, to prevent this from happening. Not only do invasive plants cost towns, state agencies, land trusts, farmers, homeowners, and others large sums of money and thousands of hours of labor for removal and restoration, invasive plants continue to cause serious harm to woodlands, to farms, to wetlands, and to other natural areas. They also contribute to a decline in habitat, inexorably leading to a decline of the wildlife populations needed for a healthy environment.
2002 – The CT Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)’s report titled Great Infestations said “The second biggest threat to Connecticut’s natural habitats is invasion by alien plant and animals (behind loss of habitat to sprawling land development). With few natural enemies, these species grow, spread, and multiply so fast they can transform healthy ecosystems into weed-clogged woodlands and waterways in just a few years. Worse, many of our native plants and animals are deprived of light, nutrients and ultimately their continued existence. Collectively, invasive species are a silent but serious environment problem for which Connecticut is not prepared.”
2012 – CEQ’s Executive Director wrote a 10-year update to the 2002 report. Referring to the paragraph above, he wrote “That was true in 2002 and is true today, though I question whether invasive species are the second biggest threat to Connecticut’s natural environment. They might be the biggest threat.”
2022 – CEQ’s 20-year update to 2002’s Great Infestations states “It has been 20 years since the Council on Environment Quality released its report on invasive species. In the intervening years, those that were identified in that report have prospered and many new invasive species, both animal and plant, have taken up residence in our state.”
Clearly, efforts to address invasive species over the past 20 years have not been enough. We have lost and are losing irreplaceable, vital habitats to invasive plants and we are not satisfied with the efforts by the State to stop this environmental crisis.
May we respectfully ask that you adopt the following, realistic recommendations to address invasive plants, including:
- Simplify the criteria in CT invasive plant law ( Gen. Stat. Sec 22a-381a–e) required for listing a plant as invasive. It currently seems to be structured to prevent plants from being listed as invasive and, in particular, prohibited.
- Change the status of all plants on the CT Invasive Plant list to ‘prohibited’ by statute. Several invasive plants are still sold, which explains why the plants mentioned in the 2002 CEQ report have “prospered” over the last 20 years. Many are overtaking our woodlands.
- Add the plants on CT’s neighboring states’ invasive plant lists to the CT invasive plant list and work with other states on early identification of invasive species. Plants don’t adhere to state borders and we can all benefit from sharing research and expertise.
- Require (not voluntary) labeling for ‘potentially invasive’ plants if they are going to continue to be sold.
- Require outreach and education by DEEP to CT residents about invasive plants, how they harm the environment, and how to remove them.
Thank you for your consideration of this request
Kevin M Tepas and Lisa Lahaussois, Co-Vice Presidents
Rowayton Gardeners Club