Lara Miller, Natural Resources Agent
If you have ever had to battle an invasive species in your yard, you know the challenges they present. The bad news is, not only are they in your yard, but your neighbor’s yard, the park down the street and the preserve across the way. Did you know there is a Florida Invasive Species Partnership (FISP) to help us manage these pests?
The FISP facilitates the formation of Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMAs). These CISMAs focus on invasive species prevention, education/awareness, early detection & rapid response, monitoring, and integrated pest management.
There are a total of 17 CISMAs in Florida with more to come! Pinellas County falls under the Suncoast CISMA also including Hillsborough, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. Their mission: to address the threat to native diversity by coordinating and increasing efforts to eliminate or reduce invasive, non-native plants and animals across public and private boundaries.
Educational opportunities and CISMA Work Days occur throughout the year. During a recent event, Exotic Species Day at Brooker Creek Preserve, volunteers removed tuberous sword ferns and Caesar’s weed to provide space for native species to reestablish their roots. Another educational program, “Invasive Species & the Law” will be held on Wednesday, May 29th in Sarasota County. All of this information and more can be found on Suncoast CISMA’s website: http://www.floridainvasives.org/Suncoast/index.html
There’s more! If you have an exotic species as a pet, but no longer wish to care for it, you can attend the upcoming “Pet Amnesty Day” at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve on Saturday, July 13th. This program is run through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to help exotic pet owners who can no longer give the optimum care for their pet. Undesired pets are brought to this event and are handed over to trained exotic pet adopters. This event aims to reduce the number of nonnative species being released into the wild.
If you’re tired of dealing with invasive species, join your local CISMA and get involved. You can make a difference!