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Archive for March, 2012

Columbia Missouri is a Midwestern college town with a high level of education among its citizens.

Photo by Jay Buffington

Based on the percentage of adults with graduate degrees, Columbia is the thirteenth most educated municipality in the United States.

MKT Trail with Honeysuckle saplings growing on the rocky cliffs

It is also known as a “green city” with many parks, recreation trails, bike lanes, recycling programs and a large segment of voters who consider environmental issues a priority.

Rock Bridge State Park – Outer Ozark Border

Our outdoor recreational areas are popular and appreciated. Many take pride in living in a place with so much natural beauty and the opportunity to enjoy it.

View from Forum Nature Area in Columbia, Missouri

In many ways Columbia is not a typical Midwestern small city.  If there is any place where you would expect people to be aware of a widespread ecological disaster unfolding in front of them… in plain sight… you would think it would be Columbia, Missouri.

MKT trail & a severe Asian Bush Honeysuckle infestation (all the green bushes!)

Of course, no city is perfect. It is hard to imagine a modern American urban area that is not covered in concrete and sprawled out on the edges.

Imported plant infestations that begin in the city eventually infest the areas we have set aside to remain as wilderness.

Gans Creek Wilderness area Rock Bridge State Park

Our parks, which have some truly outstanding examples of central North American scenery, are becoming drastically altered.

Watersheds and the surrounding mature hardwood forests of our traditional landscape are being devastated by exotic invasive vegetation.

MKT trail – With a green Honeysuckle infestation out to the horizon

Within the City itself, all areas that are not mowed or paved are relentlessly being dominated by Asian Bush Honeysuckle.

Asian Bush Honeysuckle – Impenetrable – over your head

In other areas Wintercreeper is smothering all surfaces it comes into contact with.

Wintercreeper Infestation – MKT trail

Most city dwellers are not aware of the radical transformation occurring within their backyards. These changes taking place are a drastic ecological break from the past… and it is relentless!

Severe infestation – Solid Honeysuckle over 10 feet tall in a forested area

Landowners who are aware of the problem can, sometimes with great effort, restore and recreate a diverse traditional Missouri landscape.

The “double whammy” in Columbia, Missouri – Honeysuckle & Wintercreeper in a backyard in Columbia

Those who live near the leading edge of infestation can take preventative measures. These are much easier than restoration work in areas of severe long term infestation.

The green bushes are Honeysuckle that are beginning to infiltrate Rock Bridge State Park

How can it be that such a drastic change to our ecology and traditional landscape is completely ignored?

Mature Oak Hickory forest with a heavy infestation

How can we let our backyards become breeding grounds for noxious vegetation, rather than showcases that celebrate our unique and beautiful natural landscape?

Ancient Central Missouri landscape – Rock Bridge State Park

How can we let our undeveloped areas become overrun by evasive species without reacting?

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How can Columbia, this “green” city that appreciates its outdoor resources and natural heritage, let this happen?

Severe Wintercreeper and Honeysuckle infestation right off the heavily traveled MKT trail.

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Wintercreeper: It stays green all year and covers everything. Why is it here?

It seems the nursery trade brought it here and everyone who bought it assumed it would be a nice addition to some corner of their yard.

It seems everyone assumed there would be no unintended consequences to bringing an untested ground cover into Missouri.  As it stands now, any plant from any part of the world is welcome here until its the damage is done.

In fact, it seems like even when the damage is done, there is no effort to stop its spread.

Honeysuckle & Wintercreeper - The new monotonous Missouri

Our traditional landscape is sacrificed for exotic plants that are not particularly that aesthetically pleasing or functional.

Traditional Missouri in winter

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