For the first time in its 55 year history, ACRES Land Trust will temporarily close a nature preserve. This week ACRES announced that the Little Cedar Creek Wildlife Sanctuary in Huntertown will be closed due to an infestation of a threatening species of grass.
Japanese stiltgrass is an invasive species of grass that can damage the vegetation around it. It can be found in 16 different states, and despite being quarantined for many years in southern Indiana, this marks the first discovery of the species in Northern Indiana.
ACRES Director of Land Management Casey Jones says the stiltgrass has been at the preserve for a couple of years now, and he isn’t exactly sure how the species made its way to the area.
“Perhaps you can speculate that an individual who tours all the natural sites around the state of Indiana could have been the one to introduce it, but we don’t know for sure,” says Jones, with a laugh. “I mean, the truth is, it’s been here for awhile.”
The solution? Shut down access to the preserve for as long as it takes.
“Another reason that we’re kind of quarantining this preserve is that it’s going to take a few years to make sure it’s eradicated,” he says. “If we’re protecting land, and things that are on the land, then we’re not doing well if we just let this one run rampant.”
Jones says there’s an herbicide that can be used to only knock out the stiltgrass but leave the vegetation around it unaffected. He also notes weed pulling as an effective process as well.
He says the most important aspect of this project is to make sure the stiltgrass doesn’t spread any further.
“The fact that it got here from potentially one seed… And that’s another reason we decided to close it down, because once spring comes the ground gets soupy and then those seeds are more likely to be carried somewhere,” says Jones.
ACRES Land Trust are receiving support from the regional Department of Natural Resources Division of Nature Preserves for the project. Jones says the eradication procedures will begin in the spring.