Fairhope looks for solutions to invasive plant spread

By GUY BUSBY
Government Editor
guy@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 12/2/22

FAIRHOPE — Volunteers could help Fairhope's effort to remove invasive plant species around the city and restore native flora.City Councilman Corey Martin said at a recent work session that …

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Fairhope looks for solutions to invasive plant spread

Posted

FAIRHOPE — Volunteers could help Fairhope's effort to remove invasive plant species around the city and restore native flora.

City Councilman Corey Martin said at a recent work session that members of the Fairhope Tree Committee have discussed a volunteer effort to find plants from other areas that have taken over some areas of the city, crowding out native species. He said volunteers would work with Jamie Rollins, city horticulture supervisor, to locate invasive species.

"It was brought up about creating some type of group of volunteers that can go around and actually identify these particular species," Martin said. "We wouldn't want to just give people a hatchet to just go around town cutting down trees. What they would have to do is, they would identify — this is hypothetical — they would identify it, call Jamie. Jamie would have to come out and say that's camphor, that's popcorn, and then they could cut it down."

Invasive species are often brought into an area from other parts of the country or world. In a new environment, the plants often do not have pests or predators or other natural ways to restrict their growth and will spread through an area, crowding out other plants. Tallow trees, commonly known as popcorn trees, originated in Asia but have spread throughout the Gulf Coast region, according to reports.

Martin said invasive species, such as the popcorn trees, are becoming more of a problem.

"I thought it was a great idea, and it's something that we take seriously because that popcorn is very invasive and it takes over things, so that falls right in line with how we talked about planting native species as opposed to these invaders," Martin said.

He said the Tree Committee also plans to distribute native tree species at the annual tree giveaway on Arbor Day.

Councilman Jack Burrell said camphor trees are another common invasive species on city property.

"Some of these, like the camphor trees, they grow by the thousands," Burrell said. "You go down to our Triangle property on Section Street, you could county 10,000 of them in a mile. It's that prevalent, and they'll grow to 90 feet tall."

Richard Johnson, public works director, said Fairhope crews have been working to remove invasive species on the parcel being developed as a nature preserve on the Triangle site and other municipal property. He said cogon grass is another common invasive species in Fairhope.

"We're to get in there and get that out of there, camphors," Johnson said. "When we did our walk through, we discovered a couple of isolated spots of cogon grass on the old logging roads in there. We were able to have a firm come in and do a fall treatment while the seed heads were there at a very reasonable price, and they'll come back in the spring and do a further treatment and hopefully by then we'll have a mitigation plan and start removing and treating and mitigating those invasives. That is a problem and between the privet, the camphors and the popcorn trees and the cogon grass, they'll take over an area if it's not addressed."

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