(Seguin) -- They are natural predators, spread diseases and they are probably lurking in your own backyard. However, the only problem is that for most us, we can't spot them or even realize that they pose a danger. Invasive species or non-native vegetation are a growing problem in the local ecosystem. They are also harmful to humans, the environment and impact the economy. That's according to Nancy Masterson, a member of the Guadalupe Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists.
Guadalupe Master Naturalists recently worked alongside city of Seguin Parks and Recreation Department staff members to begin the daunting task of removing exotic (non-native) vegetation from the Hoermann property, site of the future yet-unnamed city park. After a brief training by Jeff Hanselka of the Agri-Life Extension on the proper use of herbicides, crew leader Monta Zengerle organized the group into teams to tackle dominating invasives such as ligustrum and chinaberry. A group from the Guadalupe County Juvenile Probation Department also assisted. To learn more about how to identify and eradicate invasive species from your own property, residents are invited to a free Guadalupe Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists workshop on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Dunne Conference Center at Texas Lutheran University. Those volunteering at the property include left to right, Richard Rodriguez, Jim Dyess, Pam Turnar, Chris Dyess, Clara Mae Marcotte, Liz Romero, Albino Salazar, Chris Gonzales and kneeling, Monta Zengerle. Not pictured are Nancy Masterson, Betty Hughes and Jason Hesskew. Courtesy photo.
Masterson says in hopes of helping others identify and eradicate invasive species from local properties, the group is inviting the public to a free Invaders of Texas workshop this Saturday on the campus of Texas Lutheran University.
"A lot of homeowners don't know what's on their property. There are so many Asian plants that have escaped into our backyards and waterways that really tend to dominate and crowd out all of our grand old Texas natives -- the important plants that give food and survivability to all of our birds and wildlife and really make Texas what it is today. So the first part of Saturday's workshop is going to teach people what are the common invaders that they might be finding in their own backyards," said Masterson.
The damage done by invasive plants alone costs the U.S. an estimated $34.7 billion a year. Masterson says invasive species spread throughout an ecosystem, they decrease biodiversity and threaten the survival of native plants and animals. In fact, invasive species are a significant threat to almost half of the native U.S. species currently listed as endangered.
"There's growing interest in people becoming citizen scientists to really learn about the ecology of our region. Some of the popular ornamentals that we use to encourage to plant, we've now learned over the decades that they're costing more and more problems," said Masterson.
Masterson says The Invaders of Texas workshop will be presented by Justin Bush, invasive species coordinator with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin and the Guadalupe Chapter of the Master Naturalist Program.
"It's free to everybody. Anybody is welcome. You don't need to have any kind of a science background. It begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9th at Texas Lutheran University in the Dunne Conference Center in Tschoepe Hall. It runs from 9 (a.m.) to 3 (p.m.) and to sign up, you do need to go online to sign up. You go to texasinvaders.org -- you look for citizen science and the first workshop that pops up is Guadalupe Invaders and you just sign up there," said Masterson.
The workshop is free and is open to anyone in the community. The program will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in the Dunne Conference Center located in TLU's Tschoepe Hall. Space is limited and advanced registration is encouraged. To registration online visitwww.texasinvasives.org.