With funding from the USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area, State and Private Forestry, Forest Health Protection Program, the River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has started an invasive plant control program at giant City State Park.
Giant City State Park is one of the most popular parks in Southern Illinois. It is also home to an incredible diversity of native plant species. Within the park is Fern Rocks State Nature Preserve, with very diverse cliffline and hardwood forest habitats. Unfortunately, Giant City is also heavily invaded by non-native plants. The major invasive threats to the park are Oriental bittersweet, wintercreeper, garlic mustard, and Chinese yam. Giant City is also the only park in our region to have an established invasive plant management plan, which proposes strategies for control and management.
The CWMA is working with IDNR to begin to implement this management plan and start to lessen the negative impacts of invasive species while reducing the potential for spread into other areas. The control work is targeting Chinese yam and garlic mustard along Indian and Drury creeks within the park as well as controlling woody invasive plants along cliffline habitats in and adjacent to Fern Rocks State Nature Preserve. This project is going on in cooperation with volunteer work days as well as additional control work being implemented by the Southern Illinois Invasive Plant Strike Team.
In addition to the control work, this project has also installed a demonstration plot adjacent to the Giant City State Park Visitors Center. This is a 3-acre demonstration plot where invasive plants, such as Oriental bittersweet, Japanese honeysuckle, autumn olive, and multiflora rose, were controlled in half of the area, with the remaining portions left uncontrolled. This provides visitors to the park with a visual comparison of treated and untreated sites and lets them see firsthand the benefits of controlling invasive plants. This demonstration plot was recently highlighted on a local television show.