Invasive species can be an animal, plant or fungus. Typically, it's a species that has been brought into a new environment and believed to cause damage to the environment, human economy or human health. With 18 lakes in four states and Mitigation Project lands along the Missouri River, the Kansas City District has identified several species in which teams are working to control or eradicate.

"Invasive species pose a threat to our project lands and waters and can adversely impact the recreational experience of our project visitors. Certain species can impact the operation of our dams and have serious adverse impacts on our native vegetation and fish and wildlife populations," informs David Hoover, Kansas City District's conservation biologist. "Some species are a priority and high on our radar so we are actively working to monitor or eradicate them."

Do you know what plants and animals can cause harm to you, your boat or the environment? We've explained a few primary invasive species the Kansas City District is currently focused on.

Zebra mussels

What: A small mussel species that lives in lakes and rivers and feeds off plankton and other tiny food particles in water. Zebra mussels attach themselves to objects such as boats, docks, dam gates, water intake pipes and other structures clogging or blocking them. Since they attach to boats and more, they continue to be introduced to new bodies of water every year.

Where in the Kansas City District:
Missouri: Harry S. Truman and Smithville lakes
Kansas: Clinton, Kanopolis, Melvern, Milford, Pomona, Perry and Wilson lakes
Iowa: Rathbun Lake
Other: Missouri River

What we are doing: Efforts are focused on continuing education of visitors to inspect boats, docks and lifts being transported from bodies of water. Signs are posted at boat ramps to identify zebra mussel infested waters. We also educate and encourage local municipalities to inspect and treat water intakes with copper ion machines or water treatment chemicals such as copper sulfate and cutrine plus algaecide/herbicide, and recommend replacing intake screens with copper screens.

How you can help: "Clean, Drain, Dry." Wash the boat, trailer and accessories with 140 degree temperature water. Drain livewells and ballast. Allow the boat and equipment to fully dry before launching into new water. Remember, zebra mussels may be present without knowing, so it is best to follow proper guidelines at all times.

Emerald ash borer

What: The emerald ash borer is a small metallic green beetle. Adult beetles nibble on ash foliage, causing little damage, but the larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees disrupting the tree's ability to receive water and nutrients, eventually killing the tree. Green ash trees are one of the most common trees found in forests at our lakes. These trees provide important habitat for wildlife and shade on our recreation areas. The emerald ash borer will have a significant impact on those resources and recreational opportunities and we need the help of our visitors to slow the spread of this destructive pest.

Missouri: Blue Springs, Harry S. Truman, Longview, Pomme de Terre, Smithville and Stockton Lakes, Missouri River Mitigation Project lands
Iowa: Rathbun Lake
Kansas: Clinton, Hillsdale and Perry Lakes, Missouri River Mitigation Project lands
*All lands listed above are within a federal quarantine area.

What we are doing: Signs are posted at the entrance to campgrounds. Park rangers and attendants monitor firewood brought into campgrounds to ensure it is not infested with the pest. If discovered, infested wood is properly disposed of. Transporting wood outside established quarantine areas is a violation of state and federal law.

How you can help: Emerald ash borers are often found in firewood. When headed to a campground, remember to buy the wood where you burn it. Do no transport firewood into or out of recreation areas as you may unknowingly spread this destructive pest to other locations. Remember to "Buy It Where You Burn It."

Feral hogs

What: Feral hogs are domestic hogs, originally from Europe which have been released or escaped into the wild. These hogs do extensive damage to native vegetation which provides critical wildlife habitat on project lands. With recreation season underway, it is essential to eradicate this extremely damaging pest so visitors can enjoy public lands.

Missouri: Harry S. Truman and Stockton lakes

What we are doing: We are a member of the Missouri Feral Hog Partnership, comprised of multiple resource agencies and private land owners, led by the Missouri Department of Conservation and U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The goal is to eradicate feral hogs from Missouri.

How you can help: To be successful, we need the cooperation of the public in reporting feral hogs and refraining from shooting feral hogs on Corps' lands, which is prohibited. Hunting the hogs interferes with agency trapping activities and further distributes them across the landscape. Remember, "Report - Don't Shoot."


What: Hydrilla is an aquatic plant which can cause damage to the aquatic ecosystem. It can clog waterways so thick a boat may not be able to drive through the water and hydrilla may jam the motor. It may also clog water intakes and can adversely impact hydropower facilities. Hydrilla competes with native aquatic plants, meaning over time it will wipe them out. A cyanobacteria associated with hydrilla can adversely impact waterfowl and raptors.

Missouri: Harry S. Truman, Pomme de Terre and Stockton lake watersheds

What we are doing: While we have not identified hydrilla at our lake projects we coordinate efforts to monitor our waters for this plant with the help of the Missouri Department of Conservation. Together we work to educate the public how to prevent this plant from spreading and teams work to inspect lakes, streams and ponds on project lands.

How you can help: Clean trailers, boats and all gear. Remove all plant material and dispose properly so invasive plants and species are not introduced to new waters.

Sericea lespedeza

What: Sericea lespedeza is an extremely aggressive invasive plant that spreads rapidly in fields and takes over native species such as warm season grasses and pasture hay.

Where: All 18 lake projects and the Missouri River Mitigation Project lands

What we are doing: To help control sericea lespedeza, fields can be sprayed with herbicide or seasonal controlled burns are conducted to clear out the invasion.

How you can help: Clean your gear before entering and before leaving. As with many invasive plants, seeds can be transported to new locations on outdoor recreation gear. Clean boots, packs, clothing, ATVs, vehicles, trailers and pets of all seeds and mud. Seeds can fall off these items and introduce an invasive species to a new location. Remember to "Clean Your Gear."

Salt cedar, Canada thistle and phragmites

What: Salt cedar, Canada thistle and phragmites are all shoreline plants and are considered very "thirsty." The amount of water these plants consume could potentially lower water elevations. They crowd out native vegetation and degrade lake shoreline, riparian and wetland habitats.

Nebraska: Harlan County Lake
Kansas: Kanopolis and Wilson lakes

What we are doing: At Harlan County Lake in Nebraska, we have partnered with the Twin Valley Weed Management Group to help control these species in the river channel, lake bed and adjacent wetland areas. Specialized treatment of aerial spraying is applied when applicable.

How you can help: Do not transport any plant material from infested areas.

"With this information, please help us protect the lands and waters for all to enjoy well into the future," says Hoover. "Pay attention to your surroundings and understand how everyday plants or animals can impact recreation."