The Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) has been awarded a $6.28 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant to aid in the battle against cogongrass, a non-native invasive species.
"This grant will be administered by the AFC, working in cooperation with the Alabama Task Force on Cogongrass," said Bill Baisden, Assistant State Forester. "The $6.28 million will allow the task force to organize an effective campaign against cogongrass, one of the world’s most aggressive invasive species."
These funds will be used to suppress and control cogongrass, as well as provide for restoring forestlands and rangelands damaged by this invasive weed. Invasive species affect the health of ecosystems by stressing the naturally-occurring species and competing with them for resources.
At the sixth annual conference of the Alabama Invasive Plant Council in Columbiana last May, the Alabama Farmers Federation was among 22 stakeholders who signed an agreement to help combat cogongrass.
The stakeholders — federal and state agencies as well as private entities — officially entered into a "Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU) to team up in the fight against the non-native invasive plant.
In the announcement made by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a total of 19 projects addressing forest health issues were funded nationwide at over $38 million by the ARRA.
Elishia Ballentine is a writer for Alfa.