Invasive Species Management in Illinois

In 2019,  Illinois Forestry Development Council prompted a relaunch of the effort to manage invasive species in Illinois.  At that time, a committee of stakeholders was formed to identify a potential structure and strategy to better inform broad education and outreach for existing and potential invasive species in Illinois.  It was recommended that there be more structure and a process based in science, with clear steps resulting in decisions to monitor, educate, and regulate species that may have a significant economic or environmental impact on our state.  

IGIA has had multiple representatives serving on the committee during this time including Gary Knosher (Midwest Groundcovers), Brian Aaron (National Nursery Products), and Kellie Schmidt (IGIA). The committee has worked together to reach a point of consensus on the creation of bylaws and support for the reinstatement of the Illinois Invasive Species Council (IISC). The IISC, as proposed, will serve as an advisory body to help establish a network of experts that work across departments/agencies/and organizations to improve communications and response to invasive threats. This resource has not existed in Illinois since 2014. REVIEW IISC BYLAWS

On April 13, 2021 the newly-formed Invasive Species Council held its inaugural meeting by Zoom.  The first order of business was to appoint officers.  Steve Worth, Kankakee Nursery Co, was elected President, John Lough, City of Chicago Bureau of Forestry, was elected Vice President, and Ann Tosovsky, Home Nursery Inc, was elected Secretary. The council approved a list of subject matter experts, who will be asked to serve as committee members under the council in each of the following areas: terrestrial plants, pests and pathogens, terrestrial and avian wildlife, and aquatic life.  These committees will review species of concern, formulate recommended next steps for public education efforts, and more.  They will make recommendations to the governing council.

Invasive Species Council Members

John Lough, City of Chicago, Bureau of Forestry - Council President
Melissa Custic, The Morton Arboretum, Chicago Region Trees Initiative - Council Vice-President
Ann Tosovsky, Home Nursery - Council Secretary
Matt Allender, University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine, Wildlife Epidemiology Lab
David Gibson, Southern IL University, Department of Plant Biology
Steve Worth, Kankakee Nursery Co
Jim Herkert, Illinois Audubon Society
Greg Hitzroth, Illinois Indiana Seagrant
Scott Schirmer, IL Dept of Agriculture (IDOA), State Plant Regulatory Official, Bureau of Environmental Programs
Nick Seaton, River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA)
Chri Young, IL Dept of Natural Resources (IDNR), Director of the Office of Resource Conservation
Mike Ward, University of Illinois, Fish, Avian & Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
Tricia Bethke, The Morton Arboretum
Kellie Schmidt, Illinois Green Industry Association
Chris Evans, University of Illinois Extension


Of significant interest to our industry is the Terrestrial Plants Committee.  Kellie Schmidt, Executive Director of IGIA, and Chris Evans, University of Illinois Extension, have been appointed by the Invasive Species Council to co-chair the committee.  The council created a list of prospective subject matter experts to serve on the Terrestrial Plants Committee, at the recommendation of the initial working group.  

Terrestrial Plants Committee

Chris Evans, University of Illinois Extension - Co-Chair
Kellie Schmidt, Illinois Green Industry Association, Co-Chair
Brian Aaron, National Nursery Products
Evan Barker, The Pizzo Group
Dan Connelly, Illinois Department of Agriculture
Phil Cox, Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Aaron Hager, University of Illinois
Mark Jirik, Site Design Group, Ltd
Paul Marcum, Illinois Natural History Survey
Marc McCormack, Bailey Nurseries
Kelly Neal, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission
Clair Ryan, Midwest Invasive Plant Network
Kim Shearer, The Morton Arboretum
Tom Tiddens, Chicago Botanic Garden
Cathy Ward, Illinois Department of Agriculture

We have worked hard to ensure that the voice of the industry is heard throughout the process and will continue to do so.  There will be opportunities for you to provide input as the work begins.  If you have questions about this effort, please call IGIA at 217.546.4733 

Management of Terrestrial Plants in Illinois

Presently, there are two lists that regulate terrestrial plants in Illinois:

Illinois Designated Exotic Weeds List (525 ILCS 10/) Illinois Exotic Weed Act - It shall be unlawful for any person, corporation, political subdivision, agency or department of the State to buy, sell, offer for sale, distribute or plant seeds, plants or plant parts of exotic weeds without a permit issued by the Department of Natural Resources. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS LIST

Illinois Designated Noxious Weeds List - CLICK HERE

University of Illinois Extension Guide to Identifying Exotic Weeds - CLICK HERE

Guide to Managing Invasive Plants and Pests of Illinois - This is an educational resource funded, in part, through a grant from the Illinois Forestry Development Council.  It is an update and expansion of the original Management of Invasive Plants of Southern Illinois. 

How to Identify Common Invasive Plants in the Chicago Region (Videos) CLICK HERE

Management of Terrestrial Plants in the Midwest

This publication was funded, in part, through a grant from the Illinois Forestry Development Council.  It is an update and expansion of the original document which was supported by Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund.  Access the Guide

The Woody Invasives of the Great Lake Collaborative (WIGL) was been created to help you find solutions! Land managers, green industry professionals, homeowners and educators can use the website to identify, manage and replace invasive woody plants, and restore habitat for native plants and wildlife. It is a tool to promote communication and shared learning across the midwest.  Visit to learn more.

What's Happening with Invasive Species Management in Other States

Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force (MoIP) - In 2015, Grow Native! spearheaded a multi-agency, multi-industry networking and advocacy group to bolster efforts in Missouri to identify and control the invasive plant species that impact several sectors of the Missouri economy and native biodiversity. The task force works to review, discuss, and recommend educational and regulatory actions related to managing known and potential non-­native invasive plants. Representatives from the fields of conservation, agriculture, botanical science, ecological services, plant production, horticulture, landscape services and design, and arboriculture makeup the task force. LEARN MORE

Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force Invasive Plant Assessment - CLICK HERE

Top Invasive Plants Expanding in Missouri - Based on MoIP's statewide assessment created by field biologists in the state who have estimated how rapidly certain species are expanding to form new occurrences throughout each of the state's primary ecological regions. CLICK HERE

Indiana Invasive Species Council (IISC) - was established by the state legislature to enhance the ability of government agencies to detect, prevent, monitor, and manage new and long-established invasions, as well as increase public awareness about invasive species. It arose out of an Invasive Species Task Force, which rigorously evaluated numerous exotic species for their degree of invasiveness.  The council appointed an advisory committee in 2009 to address invasive plant issues in the state. Their first act was to develop a science-based, transparent list of invasive plants for Indiana through an assessment process that ranked species as high, medium, or low invasive risk, and listed others that bear watching to see if they become invasive. LEARN MORE

2019 Invasive Terrestrial Plant Rule - CLICK HERE

Prohibited Plants Fact Sheet - CLICK HERE

Alternative Options for Invasive Landscape Plants - CLICK HERE