LIVE OAK, FLA, Feb. 26, 2020 – The Suwannee River Water Management District (District), in conjunction with land managers throughout the nation, is highlighting the impacts of non-native, exotic plants on District lands as part of National Invasive Species Awareness Week held February 24-28, 2020.
The District actively manages almost 160,000 acres of public lands to reduce invasive plant species. District staff routinely monitor and record non-native plant infestations on District lands.In addition to monitoring, a variety of methods are used to control or remove populations including: manual removal (hand-pulling), mechanical removal, prescribed fire and chemical control. The type of method used is dependent on the particular invasive plant species.
By the end of 2019, 819 invasive plant infestations were documented on District lands; down from a five-year high of 857 infestations in 2017. Last year, District staff treated 41 infestations of invasive plants, and were able to reclassify six infestations from “active” to “inactive.” The District plans to treat approximately 110 infestations in 2020.
Common invasive species found on District lands include: kudzu vines, mimosa trees, chinaberry trees, tallow trees, Japanese honeysuckle vines, wisteria and Japanese climbing ferns.Invasive plants are species found outside of their native growing range and threaten the survival of native plants by reducing the area of available ecosystem. Because of their lack of adaptation, invasive plants out-compete native species through rapid growth and reproduction, and resilience to disease, pests and other natural-control methods. The phrase “invasive species” also applies to non-native animals, aquatic life and insects, such as feral hogs, lionfish or fire ants. These pests are managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Most invasive plant species originate from Asia and thrive in the southeastern United States because of the similar climates. International exploration and expansion encouraged the spread of non-native species which were introduced both intentionally and non-intentionally.
The mission of the Suwannee River Water Management District is to protect and manage water resources using science-based solutions to support natural systems and the needs of the public. The District holds true to the belief of water for nature, water for people. Headquartered in Live Oak, Florida, the District serves 15 surrounding north-central Florida counties.
For more information about the District, visit www.MySuwanneeRiver.com, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, search @SRWMD.