Invasive plants a challenge in Hillsborough River State Park

12/30/08 Sadia Ahmed
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Hillsborough River State park is one of the oldest parks in Florida, built in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today, the park faces many challenges in preserving its original natural beauty, flora and fauna of the river and its surroundings.

One of the major environmental concerns in Hillsborough River State Park is the existence of non-native plants that were introduced from other parts of the country.

Many of today’s challenges are related to the invasive plants that spread across the river and its shores. Water hyacinth is one of the more invasive plants, according to Michael Bruce Mckenny, who has devoted much of his time to eradicating invasive plants from the park.

Currently, the park is taking several measures to reduce the number of invasive plants, according to Park Assistant Manager Bob Toothaker.

The two major water sources for the Hillsborough River are the Crystal Springs and the Green Swamp, although, Smithson said the invasive plants do not always originate from there.

Toothaker said awareness is the key to preventing invasive plants from entering Florida’s ecosystem and from spreading. Park authorities sayit is possible to maintain the integrity of the park through the help of the community. Florida residents and the state’s numerous visitors should take caution and be aware of the possible impacts before introducing non-native plants to Florida’s unique eco-system.

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