In May of 2021, the Clark County SWCD in partnership with the Clark County Harmful Invasives Removal Project (CCHIRP), Indiana Invasives Initiative (III), and the City of Charlestown Board of Public Works, and Treva Hodges, Mayor of Charlestown, received an Environmental Grant from the Indiana American Water Company, for their Callery Pear Removal & Invasive Education Project. This project assisted Charlestown with the removal of invasive Callery Pear trees within the City, and distributed informational materials to inform the public about the detrimental effects of invasive species on the environment. Planting of native species was encouraged.
This project came to be after CCHIRP was approached by Mayor Hodges to assist with an invasive plant removal project the City of Charlestown was planning. She advised that the median of the main thoroughfare of Charlestown was lined with Callery Pear trees that were planted many years ago, and that they were beginning to exhibit the weak wood and branch structure characteristic of the species; limbs breaking off, and splits in the trees were occurring. Mayor Hodges also stated that the City was aware of the invasive nature of these trees and their potential to spread to nearby areas, the seeds of their fruit transported by birds and other wildlife. Evidence of species spread was already apparent in vacant lots, and lesser maintained areas in the City.
Long touted as a landscape tree since it was brought to the United States from Asia, the Callery produces a multitude of white showy flowers in the spring, and is a “beautiful tree” sought by many in the general public. Because of this, and the impact it would have on growers of the popular species, the State of Indiana did not include the tree in its recent enactment of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) – Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology’s (DEPP) Terrestrial Plant Rule. This rule states that no one is allowed to sell, gift, exchange, distribute, transport or introduce any of the 44 species listed in the rule without a permit from the IDNR. However, that does not exclude it from future inclusion. Guidance provided with the rule recommends removing Callery Pear (and other invasive plants not included on the official list) from landscaping situations, and avoiding future plantings.
Project partners felt it important to educate the public so they would understand the significance of the exclusion of Callery Pear from the Terrestrial Plant Rule, and the need to control its spread. They wanted to make citizens more aware of the invasive species included in the rule, as well as invasives in general. Educational efforts focused on the 8,199 residents of the City of Charlestown, since our project partner has a vested interest there, however, other outreach efforts went beyond Charlestown’s boundaries.
In preparation for the removal of the thirty Callery Pears, a workshop was be hosted in which our Indiana Invasives Initiative (III) Regional Specialist taught tree ID, and explained why the trees were being removed. After the removal, a second workshop was scheduled to talk about restoration and why its needed, and to teach native species ID and benefits.
Planting of the medians has now been completed. Signs will be placed to identify the site as a native species planting; a QR code on the signs will lead viewers to online information on native plants and the project.
We thank Indiana American Water for selecting our project for funding!