County Receives FWC Assistance to Remove Invasive Vegetation

St. Lucie County

St. Lucie County

St. Lucie County Receives FWC Assistance to Remove Invasive Vegetation from Bluefield Ranch Preserve

PORT ST. LUCIE – Thanks to funding from the Florida Wildlife Commission, St. Lucie County’s Environmental Resources staff will begin removing invasive vegetation from roughly 2,300 acres at the Bluefield Ranch Preserve in western St. Lucie County this month.

The $205,000 state-funded project was one of several that was awarded to St. Lucie County through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Invasive Plant Management Program, which is funded through the Invasive Plant Trust Fund, set forth in Florida Statute 369.252. Contractor crews will begin working in the coming weeks to treat the Category I invasive plants onsite including Old World climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum), Shoebutton Ardisia (Ardisia elliptica), and common/strawberry guava (Psidium sp.).

The project at Bluefield Ranch Preserve is one of three that St. Lucie County and FWC plan to tackle this year in an effort to eradicate invasive vegetation, along with Indrio Savannahs Preserve and two spoil islands on the Indian River Lagoon.

“St. Lucie County is very fortunate to receive the assistance this year and it will go a long way to helping us restore our natural communities for wildlife, ecotourism and passive recreation. However, it also shows that we have a ton of work to do in restoring our ecosystems both locally and statewide,” explained St. Lucie County Natural Resources Coordinator Mike Middlebrook. “Everyone has heard of the pythons invading South Florida, but climbing fern (Lygodium sp.) is one of those incredibly bad plants that would engulf the state (including the pythons) if left unchecked.”

FWC’s Invasive Plant Management Program was created to reduce the state’s invasive plant infestations on public conservation land by at least 50 percent by the year 2020. The process is a competitive and projects are presented at one of the 11 regional stakeholder groups for ranking at the local level, each ranking committee consists of land managers and biologists from local, state, and federal government land management agencies. This ensures that funding can be directed to high-priority projects at the local level.

Invasive plants from other countries have a long history of finding their way into to South Florida ecosystems. They sprawl and invade natural communities displacing native flora and fauna and large infestations can severally limit habitat function and biodiversity. The larger the infestation, the more costly the process becomes to remove and restore. To date, the FWC program has funded nearly $140 million in projects statewide and has treated nearly 2.5 million acres of public conservation land since the program’s inception.

Part of St. Lucie County’s Environmentally Significant Lands program, Bluefield Ranch Preserve is located at 30501 Bluefield Ranch Road in western St. Lucie County. It encompasses 3,285 acres and features a 22-mile, multi-use trail system for horseback riding, biking and hiking.  St. Lucie County’s preserves are open every day during daylight hours.

For more information about the County’s environmental preserves contact the St. Lucie County Environmental Resources Department at 772-462-2526 or visit the

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