The Potomac Highlands Cooperative Weed and Pest Management Area (CWPMA) is a partnership between federal, state, and local agencies, community associations, non-profit organizations, and private land owners aimed at coordinating efforts and programs for addressing the threat of invasive species.
An invasive plant is one that is not native to the area, but has been introduced, is starting to spread, and is causing damage to the natural environment. Since these plants are in a new environment, free of natural predators, parasites, or competitors, they often spread quickly. These large populations can out-compete and displace native species, or can reduce wildlife food and habitat. Some species can also disrupt vital ecosystem functions like nutrient cycling or soil decomposition. Other invasive plants cause economic damage to agriculture. They can harm or kill trees and other crops, clog equipment, and contaminate produce. Some invasive plants can even cause direct harm to humans or domestic animals.
The CWPMA serves Grant, Hardy, and Pendleton Counties in West Virginia and Highland County in Virginia. This landscape contains a diverse mix of pine/heath barrens, rocky summits, cliffs and balds, and subalpine coniferous forests. Over 120 rare animals, plants and natural communities have been identified in this area, making it one of the richest concentrations of biological diversity in the east.
The economy of these counties relies heavily on forest products, agriculture, and natural resource-based tourism; and is well known for its natural resources, recreational resources, and beauty. Invasive plants are a serious threat to all of these.
Non-native invasive species are one of the greatest threats to the natural ecosystems of Central Appalachia, and their numbers are increasing! Approximately 28% of the plants in West Virginia aren’t native, having been introduced from other states or countries.
Sometimes invasive plants are used for landscaping or wildlife habitat without us realizing the problems they may cause when they escape into natural areas. Without natural predators or controls, non-native invasive plants disperse widely across the landscape. Invasive plants can cause massive amounts of economic damage to agriculture.
A diverse, healthy ecosystem of native plants is important for clean air and water, soil stability, and food and shelter for wildlife. Please join us in our efforts as effective management requires cooperation among landowners, agencies, and everyone with a concerned interest.