Floridians: Help Protect Native Plants and Animals, Start In Your Backyard

This year’s National Invasive Species Awareness Week Feb. 26-March 3 offers a valuable opportunity to focus attention on the growing problem of invasive species in Florida.

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, FL | February 24, 2012

The problems caused by Burmese pythons make the news, but there are plenty of other invasive plants and animals that cause big problems in Florida and around the country. Not only do they negatively impact Florida’s economy and cost an estimated $100 million annually; they pose health risks to residents and threaten almost half of endangered species with extinction.

Floridians and others have brought some invasive species to the state for landscaping, aquaculture, hunting, aquariums and as pets. Some have been released intentionally; others accidentally. Still other invasive species are transported as unknown stowaways in boats, boots and firewood.

In honor of National Invasive Species Awareness Week, here are some top tips from The Nature Conservancy for fighting damaging invaders and stemming their spread:

  • Don’t harbor backyard invaders. Heavenly bamboo and Hawaiian half-flower (beach naupaka) may sound nice, but plants like these can overrun, crowd out and strangle life from native Florida plants. Go to to learn more about invasive plants in your area of Florida.
  • Don’t let it loose! Don’t release aquarium fish and plants, live bait or other exotic animals into the wild. Go to for more. Know the law, too. Acquiring invasive reptiles like Burmese or African rock pythons as pets is prohibited in Florida.
  • Wash your boats — and boots! Clean your boat thoroughly before transporting it to avoid moving invasive stowaways. Clean your boots before you hike to get rid of hitchhiking weed seeds and pathogens. Learn how to protect our waterways at
  • Don’t “pack a pest” when traveling and don’t move firewood. Fruits and vegetables, plants, insects and animals can carry potentially devastating forest pests or become invasive themselves, and firewood can harbor forest pests. Find out more about your powers to protect at
  • Get involved! Volunteer at your local park, refuge or other wildlife area or with your local Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) to help remove invasive species. Go to to get started!

Many of Florida’s CISMAs are planning activities for the week – go to to look at the calendar of events.

NOTE: For a list of Invasive Species Awareness Week activities statewide, please email or call 321-689-6099.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

Contact information

Jill Austin
Senior Media Relations Manager
The Nature Conservancy
(321) 689-6099

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