Biological Pollution: What you should know about invasive plants in California
A unique natural heritage
California is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and biologically rich landscapes. From redwood forests to oak woodlands, coastal dunes to desert springs, alpine meadows to delta sloughs, these landscapes are home to an astonishing variety of plants and animals. Many of these exist nowhere else on Earth. Unfortunately, these landscapes are being destroyed by invasive plants. Human development has disturbed nature’s processes, and every day invasive plants degrade more of our treasured natural heritage.
What are invasive plants?
When plant species that evolved in one region of the globe are moved to another region, a few of them flourish outside cultivation in their new home, crowding out native vegetation. These invasive plants have a competitive advantage because they are no longer held in check by their natural predators, and they can quickly spread out of control.
How do they get here?
Shipping, international travel, and the aquarium and horticultural trades are major routes of introduction.
How do they spread?
• Fragments break off and regrow
• Birds or mammals carry seeds
• Seeds are blown by the wind
• Clothing and vehicles spread seeds
In addition, some invasives are still used in landscaping.
Invasive plants rob sunlight, nutrients, and water from native plants, which wildlife depends on. Invasives damage habitat for at least half the species federally listed as threatened or endangered. In California, 415 special status species are threatened by invasive plants.
Diminished outdoor recreation
Hunting and fishing are less rewarding, even impossible, when wildlife is under stress. Invasive plants can blanket waterways, trails, and scenic landscapes, making boating, hiking and other activities difficult, while lowering the land’s value for photography and wildlife viewing.
Degraded range and timber lands
Invasive plants impact working landscapes that support agriculture as well as wildlife. Rangeland invaders such as yellow Starthistle can be low in nutrition and even toxic to livestock, and removal costs decrease land values. On timber lands, Scotch broom invades forest openings, preventing tree seedling growth. U.S. agricultural losses to invasive weeds are estimated at $33 billion each year.
Increased wildfire potential
Invasive plants generate more fire fuels than the natives they replace. Their rapid and dense growth, along with high flammability, can change fire patterns in an area and be a recipe for catastrophic wildfire. Such fires can take a heavy toll on both wildlife and human communities.
Reduced water resources
Some invasive plants consume enormous quantities of precious water at the expense of wildlife, farms, boaters, and households. Tamarisk trees alone will cost $7-$16 billion in lost water over the next half-century.
Accelerated erosion and flooding
When invasive plants displace natives on streamsides and wetlands, the likelihood of flooding and erosion can be increased. In a vicious cycle, this erosion can enable even more establishment of invasive plants.
The California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC) works to protect California wildlands from invasive plants through research, restoration, and education. The above information was provided by Cal-IPC and more can be found at www.cal-ipc.org.
Are you Fire-Ready?!
You are responsible for ensuring that your property is fire safe. It is important for homeowners to take proactive steps to protect their property from a wildfire not only in the woodland/urban interface areas, but as we have seen more and more, in the towns and cities as well. Homeowners and renters need to clear out flammable materials such as brush or vegetation around their buildings to 100 feet (or the property line) to create a defensible space buffer. This helps halt the progress of an approaching wildfire and keeps firefighters safe while they defend your home.
New homes to should be constructed with fire-resistant materials. By building your home with materials like fire-resistant roofing, enclosed eaves and dual-paned windows, you are hardening your home and giving it a fighting chance to survive a wildfire. This will also help prevent buildings from being ignited by flying embers, which can travel as much as a mile away from a wildfire. Or existing structures should be hardened for fire safety.
Do you know what to do if you had to leave in 5 minutes or if your family became trapped? Here are six ways you can prepare your home, family, animals, and property to survive any fire emergency.
#1 & #2 – Take a few minutes to keep your home, family, and possessions safe & protect from Embers – Click #1
#3 & # 4 – The six Evacuation Advisories you must be prepared for & the Evacuation Checklist –
Click Here to find more helpful tips that may save you, your family (two legged and four legged), and your property. And if you have not yet signed up to be notified in the event of a fire, flood or other emergency, now is the time to register. It is free and it’s important, not only for your safety but for the safety of first responders.
MCAlert is used to update residents regarding emergency evacuation during the fire season. By signing up, you will help keep everyone in the community safer including our deputies and firefighters. MCAlert is also used for other natural disasters such as floods, severe weather and missing persons, such as Amber or Silver Alerts when necessary.
To ensure you are receiving alerts, please sign up at maderacounty.com (click on the MCAlert logo) or go by the Madera County Sheriff’s Office to complete the form in person.
The system is free and beginning May 1, 2019, the phone number for calls from MCAlert has changed. Registered users should program the number 1-800-915-2371 into their phones as “MC ALERT” and if possible, assign a unique ringtone to this number to further prompt you to pick up.