The formal signing of the invasive species proclamation.

Governor Branstad has declared April “invasive species” month to raise awareness about the problem.

“Millions of dollars, both public and private, are spent each year for the control of invasive plants, insects, diseases and animal species in Iowa woodlands and urban areas,” Branstad said.

Oriental bittersweet, for example, has spread into Iowa. Its vines climb over and smother trees.

“Iowa’s woodlands, wildlands and waterways draw hundreds of thousands of tourists and recreational users each year,” Branstad said. “…Awareness of invasive species is an important first step towards behavioral change which can prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species.”

Members of the Trees Forever group and other advocates circled Branstad’s desk this past Wednesday as he signed the proclamation. One of them was in costume.

“Oh my God, we do have an invasive species here!” Branstad quipped as the woman walked into his office for the event.

A man in the crowd then asked Branstad: “Do you have any ash trees up in your place?”

The woman was dressed as an emerald ash borer. Branstad indicated he’s “not 100 percent sure” on what species of trees are planted at Terrace Hill, but he believes most are shagbark hickory.

According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the five most common invasive species in Iowa are Bush Honeysuckle, Garlic Mustard, European Buckthorn, Multiflora Rose and Reed Canary Grass. There are some state laws targeting the introduction of invasive species by land and by water. For example, it’s illegal to transport an invasive species by boat, so boat owners are to clean off any plants, animals or mud that may be stuck to the boat before leaving a body of water in Iowa.