Non-native plants

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The invasion of forests by non-native plants is not a new issue, but rather one likely to be intensified as Marcellus shale drilling and hydro-fracturing ramp up across the Appalachian Basin.

With the rapid increase in the drilling of new wells on forest lands will come a massive amount of forest road building. Tank trucks will need access to forest well pads for hydro-fracturing of gas wells. The ensuing roads will provide pathways for invader plants to spread.

An example of this phenomenon is a very invasive plant called Japanese stiltgrass. The seed of this plant becomes mixed in with dirt and gravel used to grade road surfaces and line culverts and drains. The high alkalinity of the crushed limestone combined with water washing off the roads during storms is a perfect vector for spreading invasive plant seeds and allowing them to germinate and grow. Ironically, at the same time the high-alkalinity runoff improves the habitat of trout and other water organisms and somewhat compensates for the deposit of acid rain in nearby streams.


Researchers learn why invasive plants are spreading rapidly in forests

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