If you went to the beach last fall and didn’t run into a bunch of Russian thistle, you have some special people to thank. They call themselves the “Invader Raiders,” and for three years they’ve been spending May through September pulling little thistles before they turn into big nuisances.
Just recently, they were given awards for invasive plant removal at Fort Clinch. The first year they went to war with thistles, they removed almost 7,000 plants along the park’s beaches. That number went steadily down until last year they could only find 8 to remove.
That near-eradication isn’t just a boon to beach-goers’ bare feet. It’s a boon to the dunes, too. Invasive plants are one of the greatest threats so beach dunes.
The Invader Raiders started at the Fernandina Beach Department of Parks and Recreation, focusd on battling invasive plants in the Greenway plus all city parks and beaches. Then a partnership sprung up between the city and Fort Clinch State Park.
But don’t think the thistle job is done – or any other invasive plant removal. All it takes is a stray seed or two to turn a few plants into a major menace. An Invader Raider’s job is never done.
For more information about invasive and native plants from the University of Florida, go to: https://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/. You also can find the Invader Raiders on Facebook.