Volunteers Dedicate Nearly 75,000 Hours Fighting Invasive Exotic Plants in Florida

May 15, 2014

Volunteers are making a positive difference fighting back against invasive plants in Florida state parks. The Florida Conservation Corps Annual Report on the Project AmeriCorps Non-native plant Terminators (Project A.N.T.) program is now available. The report highlights the accomplishments of Project A.N.T.’s 37 full-time members, two half-time members and 2,273 volunteers in their fight against invasive exotic plant species across Florida state parks.

Each full-time member committed to 1,700 hours and 11 months at a host state park, while half-time members committed to 900 hours and six months. They focused on the treatment and removal of various invasive exotic plants, including Brazilian pepper trees, cogon grass and Coral ardisia. Members also engaged local residents and park visitors on how they could play a role in keeping these habitat-damaging plants out of parks either through landscaping choices at home or by volunteering to remove invasive exotic plants currently infesting state parks. By the end of 2013, Project A.N.T. members collectively served a total of 74,026 hours, the equivalent of an eight year period.

“There is no shortage of enthusiasm and dedication for preserving Florida’s state parks,” said Donald Forgione, director of the Florida Park Service. “Project A.N.T. has been able to harness this energy to fight off non-native plant life in Florida’s state parks through physical treatment of effected areas and by getting local communities involved in the health of their state parks.”

To locate and treat invasive exotic plant infestations, the 2014 Project A.N.T. covered more than 10,180 acres of state park lands. More than 2,000 volunteers were recruited and coordinated by project members to aid in the treatment and removal of invasive exotic species. Since treatment alone will not win this battle, the members also talked with more than 12,000 community members and park visitors about this and other critical environmental issues. Additionally, more than 1,000 miles of park trails, approximately the same distance as half of the Appalachian Trail, were improved to help residents and visitors enjoy nature and support active lifestyles.

Project A.N.T. is well underway for the 2014 calendar year. In February, 50 full-time members kicked off their 1,700 hour and 11 month commitment across more than 25 state parks in Florida.

For more information on Project A.N.T. and the Florida Conservation Corps, click here.

 

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