US Fish and Wildlife Says Japanese Knotweed Invading W.Va.'s Streams

The agency says the non-native plant is beginning to make it's way into the state at an alarming rate.

15 August 2011
By Mike Krafcik

CLARKSBURG  -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is doing what it can to help to reduce the population of Japanese Knotweed plants.

The Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife program says they're popping up around area streams, and cause negative environmental affects.

Along the banks of the West Fork River in Clarksburg lies a cluster of Japanese Knotweed plants.

They're tall, mostly rust-colored, and have a bamboo like-stem with heart-shaped leaves. Adult plants can grow between 6-8 feet.

The Fish and Wildlife service says the bamboo-like perennial can cause serious erosion and flooding problems, can alter the soil to prevent native plant growth and can jeopardize brook trout populations through reduction of their food sources.

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has listed it as an invasive species.

"It becomes a problem. It allows soils to wash away, those plants don't hold the riverbank as well," said John Schmidt, state coordinator, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife.

The service says the West Fork, Tygart, Cheat, Monongahela, Ohio, and other watersheds are suffering from an over-abundance of the plant.

The plant isn't poisonous to humans but it grows quickly and is now spreading on some roadsides and farms.

"It actually omits toxic substances from its roots and it precludes other plants from growing there and it establishes a clone. It just keeps growing outward," said Schmidt.

The Fish and Wildlife service wants to limit that growth.

Successful efforts were made in the Seneca River watershed to eradicate it within a year, sooner than anticipated.

"We've been seeing 95-99 percent effectiveness in the first year, so it's been really effective and it will help to eliminate this plant over time," said Schmidt.

The service recommends that people cut the plant in June, let it grow for a few weeks, then apply a herbicide application in late August.

The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program is looking to provide technical assistance to anyone looking to remove the Japanese Knotweed.

You can call them at 304-636-6586 extension 16.