The McKean County Conservation District will receive $50,000 in funding from the state Department of Agriculture to assist with two projects designed to control and eliminate infestations of invasive plant species in the region, Rep. Martin Causer announced on Oct. 3.
“Non-native, invasive plants can cause serious problems for reforestation efforts and other environmental concerns,” Causer said. “I commend conservation district officials for their proactive efforts to eradicate these problems before they grow any worse.”
The conservation district sought funding through the newly created Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account, which was established earlier this year under legislation authored by Causer and funded in the 2019-20 state budget.
The funding will be split equally between two projects. The first will target a non-native, invasive and noxious weed called goatsrue, which initially appeared in McKean County 20 years ago. In recent years, the plant – which is poisonous to livestock – has spread to Cameron, Elk and Warren counties.
So far, those infestations are smaller than most of what is found in McKean County, and officials hope to stop the spread and get rid of the plant before it causes any further damage. The project would be conducted on public and private lands in Cameron, Elk, McKean and Warren counties.
The second will target the non-native, invasive Japanese knotweed. Clearing this plant would increase the effectiveness of reforestation efforts on commercial timber lands and improve recreational opportunities in the Tionesta Creek watershed, including improving watercraft and swimming access as well as fishing. The infestation is classified as a small, satellite population of the plant.
According to conservation district officials, the Tionesta Watershed is one of very few watersheds in the state that could be devoid of Japanese knotweed with successful implementation of the eradication plan to be funded in part by the grant funding. The project would be conducted on public and private lands in Warren, Forest, Elk and McKean counties.