The Invasive Species project group met initially on August 11, 2015 at the Georgetown Public Library. The project scope was deemed sufficient to allow 3 people to serve as co-project leaders – Dan Robicheaux, Greg Rothlander, and Doyal Nelms. The project is envisioned as the opening move in a joint effort working with the Williamson County Parks Department and GWMN to provide a trained base of volunteers who can supplement the Park’s staff in projects suggested by the department and executed – in this case Invasive Species Management in the trails and preserves in Williamson County.
The initial species management task is to survey and identify invasive species along the Brushy Creek Regional Trial (approximately 7 miles) from the trail head along Harry Man Road in the east all the way to the Twin Lakes Park to the west of Highway 183-A. One tool already available is the data collected and managed by the Texas Invaders program which allows Citizen Scientists to observe and report specific locations of invasive species. The GPS data points are being mapped into the Williamson County GIS department’s software to produce maps of the local parks and trails with the invasive species already identified and pinpointed for removal. This identification program thus allows many volunteers to participate on their own time schedule.
The project co-leaders will work directly with Mark Pettigrew, WilCo Parks Department trail and preserve specialist. He is a licensed commercial pesticide applicator and we would apply any pesticides under his direct supervision. Volunteer tasks will involve use of chain saws (must be thoroughly checked out before using), hand equipment, and ultimately pesticides in the management of the target species.
A number of other groups (including jurisdictional entities) will be working separately and perhaps jointly on the management project. The primary task will be safe and effective management of the invasive species while not overstepping our authority.
Presentations are being made to encourage all Master Naturalists to visit the Texas Invaders website and take the time to complete the Citizen Scientist online training and begin to identify those invaders for future removal.
Initial volunteer work will commence in early 2016 based upon scheduling with the WILCO Parks and Recreation Department staff.