Following are comments (to give the reader a clearer understanding) from BCEC Member, Dan Preston, on the Power Point presentation given on May 8, 2023 by Michael Van Clef, Strike Team Program Director, as well as a link to download the presentation if you wish to see the slides:

“At the Commissioners meeting on Monday night, Mike Van Clef gave an illuminating presentation about invasive plants and his survey of Bordentown City’s public open spaces. When asked at the end about how bad our town’s invasives problem is, his answer was “really bad.”

Here’s a link to his PowerPoint: Invasive Species – Strike Team Bordentown

Without his description, the slides may seem a bit dry. One of them was key to me … Slide 7 on “Why are Invasives Bad?”
– the top line shows Autumn Olive, a very invasive shrub … and below that, a list of over a dozen native species that autumn olive infestations can totally crowd out
– what it shows is that if autumn olive takes over a previously-diverse area of natives, it severely limits the food chain for wildlife, with flowers in May and fruit in September and October … and nothing in the other 9 months.
– compare that to the flowers, seeds and fruits that a diverse native habitat offers all year round.
– as Mike said, “I like to eat all 12 months of the year, and so does wildlife” … but an autumn olive monoculture is a food desert for all but 3 months.

Slide 10 shows a “DO NOT PLANT” list of harmful invasive species that can still commonly be found at garden centers. Legislation may someday prohibit their sale, but it’s not the case yet.
– We can certainly circulate this list far and wide to our residents and property owners
– We can recommend options for the City to take action to prohibit these species, perhaps in any new development applications
– I’m thinking it would also be great if we could find (or convince) local garden centers willing to banish these species from their offerings, and then publicize these invasives-free vendors. It’s pretty daunting as a homeowner to scour a list of 100 plants and be sure that you’re not buying something harmful (especially since many plants go by a variety of common names) … much easier to go to a garden center that has certified that it doesn’t carry any of them, so that you can shop worry-free.

Slide 17-18 covers volunteer stewardship teams
– With the new Parks committee, it would be great if we could team up to create an ongoing group to address invasives
– A great idea would be to visit existing teams in nearby towns (i.e. join them in one of their local volunteer work days), to see how they work & organize

Throughout the talk, Mike mentioned how absolutely terrible deer are to the natural habitats. A key thing: Deer eat native plants and the successful invasive species are ones that deer do NOT eat. So in an over-grazed area, natives get eaten before they have a chance, and the non-edible invasives can then take over.
– We should probably determine how bad our deer problem is (such as in the Thornton Creek zones, and elsewhere). It may be worse than we realize.
– In the parking lot after the talk, (BCEC members) Cathy (Elliott-Shaw), Lauren (Drumm) & I spoke with Mike a bit more, including creating deer-exclusion areas: If an area is small (e.g. 10’ x 15’), deer won’t jump in even if a fence is just 4’ tall. So we could create one or more of these with a 50’ roll of cheap wire fencing and some rebar. Mike has seen some astounding results of how natives can out-compete invasives if they’re simply given the chance to survive without hungry deer chomping them.
– So I found it encouraging to realize that our native species are not frail weaklings, unable to compete with muscular invaders. In fact, they can win the battle if able to survive past infancy. After all, they evolved to be right here in the first place.

Finally, Mike has offered to lead a walk, probably in the Gilder park/Thorton Creek area, sometime in June (gratis). This is one of our areas most worthy of our attention … it’s threatened, but not completely overrun by invasives (unlike many of our other areas).”


Dr Hamilton Bordentown SLF Talk 7-28-21
Recording of Dr. Hamilton’s Presentation July 28, 2021
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