Troy University working to remove invasive plant

Published 7:58 am Thursday, October 20, 2011

Troy University has taken steps to eliminate a highly invasive plant species, Chinese privet from seven acres on the Troy campus.

The Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority (CPYRWMA) provided $15,000 to assist with the project.

The funds were presented to Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. Wednesday by Rep. Alan Boothe and Judge William “Bill” Stone, who represent Pike County on the CPYRWMA board of directors.

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Barbara Gibson, CPYRWMA executive director, said one five-acre parcel that had been invaded by the Chinese privet, is adjacent to McKinley Avenue and west of Janice Hawkins Park.

“And intermittent tributary crosses the property and was heavily infested with Chinese privet,” Gibson said. “The stream is a tributary of Persimmon Branch, which empties into Walnut Creek. The additional two-acre parcel is on Collegedale Street and was also degraded by the invasive plant species.”

Gibson said that experts suggested that chemicals released from Chinese privet affect water quality for macro-invertebrates such as crayfish and snails.

In addition, the species creates monocultures that reduce tree diversity along riparian zones, sunlight availability and suppress native species that are beneficial to wildlife and a healthy ecosystem.

“Troy University cleared the acreage by removing the invasive species and implemented a chemical spraying program,” Gibson said. “Once the privet was cut and removed, a chemical application was used, just on the stumps, in a ‘spot application’ program to minimize runoff.”

The $30,000 total project will provide a more functional property for wildlife that depend on native plants for healthy living and will improve water quality.

“We appreciate the opportunity to have participated in this important and beneficial project with Troy University and commend Chancellor Hawkins for his efforts to address this serious threat to wildlife habitat and water quality degradation on the campus,” Gibson said.

Mark Salmon, director of the university’s physical plant, said the friendship and ongoing support from the watershed management authority is greatly appreciated.

“They are friends and on-going supporters of our environmental efforts to improve the campus of Troy University,” he said.

The Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority is a state agency created in 1991 by the Alabama Legislature. It is responsible for managing the 2.3 million acres in the watersheds of southeast Alabama in the areas of water quality, water quantity, flood control and prevention and water conservation.