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Brazilian pepper tree continues to be a problem for the Coastal Bend region

Posted at 9:44 PM, Feb 24, 2023

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It's invasive species awareness week and it is meant to shed light on the harm nonnative plants or animals could have on our environment. 

“You have the Brazilian pepper tree, the Chinese Tallow trees, China Berries. We also have a lot of invasive grasses,” Katie Swanson, with UT Austin Marine Science Institute said.

The list includes animals like feral hogs, lionfish and red ants. 

Swanson is the stewardship coordinator at the UT Austin Marine Science Institute, she’s been steadying invasive species for years and said she constantly runs into one reoccurring issue. 

“The Brazilian pepper tree currently are all dead. They are from Brazil, so they’re not used to our colder winters,” Swanson said. 

As volunteers, the weed management program cleared the dead brush away, and new trees were sprouting on the grasslands of Port Aransas.  

“The Brazilian pepper tree can actually put chemicals into the ground to stop the growth of other species,” she said. 

But it also impacts the local economy. 

“You’re taking out your native habitat. You’re impacting people’s wallets by impacting birding,” Swanson added.

There have been ongoing efforts for nearly a decade to help manage invasive species in the Coastal Bend. 

Rae Mooney, the Nature Preserve Manager for the City of Port Aransas said it’s taken a lot of work, time, and money to get to this point. 

“We host these semiannual workdays where we work on the area. We can’t make the impact we can by just hiring contractors,” Mooney said. 

The work will continue with spring just around the corner. If you would like to volunteer your time to help, there are events coming up.