Metropark Cooperative Targets Invasive Species

Improving Native Habitat

Cleveland-area parks removed invasive plants, shrubs, and reeds, allowing native species to return.


Many sites around the Great Lakes have problems with invasive plants. These aggressive, non-native species take over marshes, forests, fields, and prairies, crowding out native species that provide a rich habitat for wildlife in the Great Lakes ecosystem. The strength and persistence of these invaders also makes them hard to remove from an area once established. Thanks to a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, several groups in the Cleveland metropolitan area have formed a cooperative weed management area to more efficiently and effectively combat invasive plants in the region. In three years, a small crew of people worked to clear almost 4,000 acres in the Cleveland Metroparks, the Summit County Metroparks, and areas adjacent to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The grant funded the removal of dense, woody underbrush, as well as aquatic invasive plants, such as phragmites, in area wetland.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Lack of native habitat
  • Invasive species
  • Lack of plant diversity


Looking over a wetland with grasses

Wetlands, like the one pictured above, can be choked out with invasive species if they are not controlled. Credit: Kip Cronk Michigan Sea Grant.

Results and Accomplishments

In three years, the crew removed invasive species like Asian bittersweet, autumn olive, glossy buckthorn, Japanese knotweed, multiflora rose, phragmites, purple loosestrife, and reed canarygrass, in almost 4,000 acres. The hard work of this crew has opened up space and native species are returning, which will benefit area wildlife. This successful collaborative has been given another Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant, allowing this restoration work to continue.