By Riya Chinni
To combat the issue of invasive species plaguing Carmel and surrounding areas, a group of residents is starting a Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area. Members want to build a foundation for the CISMA movement in Hamilton County.
Phil Flannagan, spokesman and leader of the grassroots organization, said those interested in forming a CISMA held an exploratory meeting in February.
“There were probably 40 people in the room, and 38 were representing various government or public (organizations), like the parks and recreation department, the highway department, the forestry department,” Flannagan said. “Everybody is dealing with invasives in some form or fashion.”
He said the main goal for the group is to collectively utilize funds allocated to address environmental issues in a more effective way and educate the public about invasive species, which not only negatively affect the environment but also cost Indiana more than $5.7 million, according to the Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society.
Flannagan said invasive species can cause a domino effect that harms ecosystems.
“Some of the berries (invasive plants produce), birds eat them, but it’s like a sugar high. There’s no real nutrition there. It’s this interconnectivity of animals, plants, everything,” Flannagan said. “That’s when the bell went off in my head. It’s nice to eradicate them, but let’s educate people on why not to plant them the in first place.”
Educating the public, Flannagan said, is a priority for CISMA.
“I think most people, if they knew what was going on, they wouldn’t plant something like that,” Flannagan said.
For more or to join Hamilton County’s CISMA Supporter List, visit hcinvasives.weebly.com.