Stop the Selling of Tree-Killing English Ivy in WA State

To Washington State Department of Agriculture

Whatcom Million Trees Project -- Petition To Save Trees

Thousands of mature trees statewide are threatened by English Ivy (and its botanical cousin -- Atlantic/Boston Ivy).

While rapidly spreading on the ground, English Ivy opportunistically climbs the trunks of any tree in its path. It becomes a slow, silent tree killer when it reaches and takes over the tree canopy. Virtually every tree beset with English Ivy will prematurely die!

The non-native plant especially thrives in coastal Washington. Here in Whatcom County, we have tallied over 2,000 affected trees. Many more haven't been tallied yet, such as on private properties, likely adding up to more than 5,000 mature trees County-wide threatened. Statewide, we estimate the number exceeds 100,000 trees. Millions of dollars of agency and private funds are spent annually in Washington to try to reduce English ivy. Yet the tree-killer continues to spread.

One key to reducing this problem is to prohibit the SELLING of English ivy from nurseries and stores. Unfortunately, most readily sell it. Within Whatcom County, we have requested local nurseries (retail and wholesale), big box stores, etc. to no longer sell English ivy. Some have agreed (such as Garden Spot! in Bellingham); others have not.

For the benefit of the entire state, we hereby petition the Washington State Department of Agriculture (which controls what WA nurseries can or cannot sell) to add English ivy to their prohibited list. Oregon did this several years ago with great success. Annually, the WSDA considers whether any plants should be added to the prohibited list. In the petition below, we summarize key reasons for such an action.

Please sign the petition below to stop this widespread tree-killer at the source. Your signature TODAY will add pressure on the WSDA to prohibit English ivy sales, which will enhance our state's climate resiliency, biodiversity, and quality of life. Thank you!

Note: We deeply care about the privacy of your personal info. Maintaining the highest ethics is very important to us. Your name and email will not be shared with ANY other organization. When the advisory petition is sent to its intended recipient, all names and emails will be partially obscured.

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To: To Washington State Department of Agriculture
From: [Your Name]

Request to add English Ivy & Atlantic/Boston Ivy to the WSDA Prohibited Plants and Seeds List

We, concerned citizens of Washington State, request that four cultivars of English ivy (Hedera helix 'Baltica', 'California', 'Pittsburgh', and 'Star') plus Atlantic/Boston ivy (Hedera hibernica) be added to the WSDA Prohibited Plants and Seeds List.
Four of these five plants are currently listed by WSDA as Class C Noxious Weeds.
Other states such as Oregon have already taken such action.

Below are six key reasons why English ivy should no longer be sold in Washington by nurseries and other stores:

Tree Killing
English ivy is killing thousands of mature trees through Washington. Most people don't realize that because the process on each tree takes several years. When ivy reaches a tree's canopy, it takes over -- suffocating the tree's photosynthesis, weighing down branches, and robbing nutrients. The tree weakens significantly, then winds or decay snaps off the tree's top, resulting in a dead snag.

Loss of Resiliency
English ivy is reducing our state's climate resiliency. In our new climate era, every mature tree is needed to capture carbon, cool our cities, buffer flooding, support habitat, and provide the numerous other benefits that trees naturally give us.

Loss of Habitats
English ivy is a prolific invasive that spreads aggressively that out-competes many other plant species, creating monoculture plant understories that destroy habitat for animals and insects in our forests, parks, and green spaces. Spreading successfully via seedy berries in bird droppings, English ivy can regenerate miles away. In this way, ivy on private property seeds ivy in public parks and green spaces.

Increased Public Danger
Ivy tends to appear along roads, trails, open space edges, and roads -- anywhere where there has been land disturbance. It turns healthy trees into hazard trees that threaten public safety. Also, since ivy roots are shallow, thick mats covering hillsides increase the chance of slope failure as water runs under the ivy and entire mats of ivy and soil slide downhill.

Costly to Mitigate
Significant parks funding, plus hired and volunteer labor, is devoted to ivy removal in Washington annually. For example, between 2005-2011, the City of Seattle spent more than $11 million on English ivy and invasive removal in its parks. This diverts millions of dollars of resources that could be spent for other needs.

Unnecessary to Sell
Many native plant alternatives exist that nurseries can sell to customers who desire an expansive ground cover. The loss of English ivy sales will create virtually NO negative impact to nurseries. In fact, the opposite may occur. Instead of one aggressive ivy plant being purchased to fill a landscape bed, five alternatives could be sold.

Please act urgently to add English Ivy & Atlantic/Boston Ivy to the WSDA Prohibited Plants and Seeds List. Thank you.