DEP Observes National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Feb.23.2015

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service encourages Florida residents to join us in observing National Invasive Species Awareness Week, Feb. 22-28. Across the nation, land managers are raising awareness and identifying solutions to the invasive species issues at local and state levels. In Florida, a similar focus helps residents identify easy actions they can take to help eradicate invasive plants.

“One way to stop the spread of invasive plants is to tell residents about the issues they create in our natural ecosystems. We want to go one step farther and give people action items for ways they can help,” said Donald Forgione, director of the Florida Park Service.

In Florida, for example, Australian pine trees grow in the southern coastal regions of the state. Despite their name, these trees are not pines or conifers. They were planted long ago to soak up the “swamps” in Florida. However, there were unintended consequences. The trees grow five or more feet per year, producing dense shade, which crowds out other nearby native plants. This is only one example of an invasive plant species.

Here are six ways you can help:

  1. Learn about invasive species, especially those found in your region. Yourcounty extension office and the National Invasive Species Information Centerare both trusted resources;
  2. Wear clean hiking boots, waders, boats and trailers, off-road vehicles and other gear to stop invasive species from hitching a ride to a new location;
  3. Avoid dumping aquariums or live bait into waterways;
  4. Don’t move firewood from one part of the state to another – instead, buy it where you’ll burn it;
  5. Plant only non-invasive plants in your garden, and remove any known invaders. Find Florida Friendly Landscaping here; and
  6. Volunteer to help remove invasive species from your local state park. Click here or ask any park ranger how you can help.

For more information about National Invasive Species Awareness Week, click here.

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