Partnership Battling Cogongrass in Mississippi

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

With support from the Forest Health Protection program of the USDA Forest Service, the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) is achieving goals outlined in its Forest Action Plan.

Cogongrass is an invasive, non-native grass, which occurs in the southeastern United States. A pest in 73 countries and considered to be one of the "Top 10 Worst Weeds in the World", cogongrass affects forest productivity, native species survival, wildlife habitat, recreation, native plants, fire behavior, site management costs to name a few.

It has become a serious problem for landowners and managers in Mississippi. It has proven a tough antagonist for forest managers and in many cases multiple yearly herbicide applications are necessary for total control.

The Forest Health Protection program has enabled Mississippi to expand its efforts to combat its spread of cogongrass, which threatens the survival of the longleaf pine ecosystem.

Most forest landowners are aware of the threats from cogongrass but often lack the financial resources to combat the plant. In 2009, Mississippi instituted a Cogongrass Suppression Program made possible by USDA Forest Service American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. The original ARRA program covered 19 of the 62 known infested Mississippi counties along the leading edge of the state’s Cogongrass infestation and ended in 2011.

MFC has now conducted five successful cogongrass suppression seasons, serving 1,844 landowners, and treating 27,268 spots of cogongrass; and a large public educations campaign with radio PSAs and presentations. The MFC cooperates closely on this project with various state and federal agencies and universities.

“The Mississippi Forestry Commission appreciates our partnership with the USDA Forest Service. Our relationship is one that is truly working to help the citizens of our state by providing increased forest protection and improving forest health,” said Charlie Morgan, State Forester.

2010 to 2014 by the numbers: Six full-time employees; 27 public education presentations; 12 print and 12 radio PSAs aired; seven newspaper interviews published; three radio interviews; four television interviews; 21,000 copies of educational materials shared with landowners in the state.

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Learn more about Mississippi's forests in its Forest Action Plan.