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Integrated management key to control the spread of invasive species

February 26, 2020 -  By

National Invasive Species Awareness Week is a national effort to raise awareness about the environmental damage caused by non-native species. The Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE) is participating in this national effort, which is recognized Feb. 24-28, 2020.

RISE is also promoting a heightened awareness of the key need to control invasive species by deploying several different management strategies such as:

  • An integrated vegetation management (IVM) approach to effectively manage aquatic invasive species. IVM considers all control and prevention options — biological, cultural, mechanical, and chemical means — and follows a process to observe, identify, solve and prevent invasive plant problems.
  • Learn more about invasive species prevention and how to spot common invaders in your area.
  • Use pesticide products approved by the EPA that prevent invasive species from harming local, state and national ecosystems.

Invasive species can take the form of plants, animals, insects and even fungus or bacteria that are not native to the local ecosystem and can harm that ecosystem. Bodies of water are particularly susceptible to the spread of non-native plants, making it important to raise awareness about aquatic invasive species.

“Our wetlands, waterways and natural habitats are lifelines for how we live, work and play. It’s important that we continue to have thriving rivers, lakes, and beaches to enjoy for many years to come,” said Megan Provost, president of RISE. “Unfortunately, invasive plants and other species have spread in many of our wetlands and waterways and they can out-compete native species, burden the economy and threaten public health. Addressing this challenge requires an integrated approach.”

The negative impact of invasive species on wildlife and public health can yield high costs, including:

  • Preventing oxygen from reaching fish and other wildlife.
  • Blocking waterways and attaching to boat motors.
  • Entangling swimmers, pets, paddlers and boaters.
  • Damaging critical habitat for rare, threatened and endangered species.
  • Creating areas that welcome mosquito growth, which leads to an increased risk of mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile Virus and the Zika virus.

Florida, with its subtropical climate, faces significant pressure from invasive species. Hydrilla is considered the worst invasive aquatic plant in the U.S. and, in Florida, state agencies have spent approximately $250 million to manage hydrilla over a 30-year period. Water hyacinth and water lettuce are additional examples of the many aquatic invasive weeds threatening Florida waterways. Non-native invasive plants impact approximately 1.5 million acres in Florida (the equivalent of more than 1.14 million football fields). Controlling these invasive plants, however, can have significant benefits — one estimate from 2007 concluded that regular invasive plant management on lakes in central Florida provided a net benefit valued at $60 million.

 

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