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Mangroves: An invasive but protected native plant

by Dr. Richard D. Johnson
Management Agronomist/Pest Management Coordinator

Mangroves pose a threat to MacDill. Armed with the storm-water maintenance exemption, MacDill has started the removal of mangroves from ditches at "trouble spots" throughout the base.

The 6th Civil Engineering Squadron met with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Jan. 16 to discuss the mangrove issue.

The FDEP pointed to another Florida regulation that permits maintenance of established storm-water ditches and canals. It said that "maintenance activities" could include the trimming or removal of mangroves. The FDEP stressed that the exemption only applies to established storm-water conveyances, not to coastal zones, creeks or inlets.

If you have questions about mangroves or the proposed plans for removal, call 828-0844. In some areas, mangroves will only be trimmed. Where practical, the extracted mangroves will be transplanted along MacDill's eastern shoreline to help reduce erosion. Protected by Florida law and considered essential parts of coastal ecology, these small, shrubby native tree species have an impact on MacDill. Mangroves are found throughout MacDill's inter-tidal areas, specifically along our shorelines and in our storm-water drainage ditches.

The problem facing the base is when mangroves invade the drainage canals, decreasing the natural flow of water from the base, they become a breeding site for mosquitoes and other biting insects.

The three species of mangroves, red, black and white, provide extensive environmental benefits.

The mangroves, with their extensive root system, aid in the development of coastal ecology by providing resistance to tidal water surges and reducing shoreline erosion.

The mangrove's roots, trunk and canopy provide valuable food and habitat for fish and birds, and the trees help maintain and improve the quality of Florida's coastal waters.

The Florida Marine Research Institute reports that 86 percent of mangrove habitat has been lost since the 1940s. These losses are the result of development.

To protect this beneficial native tree the Florida Legislature enacted the 1996 Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act. This law prohibits the removal, alteration or trimming of mangroves throughout the state without the proper permit.

 

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