Corpus Christi’s Park Operations Department is using “girdling”, removing large sections of bark from trees, to fight invasive, non-native trees in the Hal and Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge.
“The girdling process would definitely slow them down,” tree expert at Gill Landscape Nursery Mike Montgomery said.
The city says, for now, girdling will be used to stop invasive popinac trees from growing. Then, on February 9, a volunteer group will help Park Operations workers cut down and remove them. Volunteers and city workers will easily know which trees to cut, because they’re the ones that are girdled.
“What appears to be natural habitat here isn’t girdled, but all the rest of the trees are,” bird enthusiast and refuge visitor Ray Barnett said.
Barnett is visiting Corpus Christi specifically for bird watching. Today was his first visit to the Suter refuge, and the sight of hundreds of girdled trees caught him by surprise.
“I thought, ‘wow, a bunch of hooligans came out here and slashed the trees for some reason,” he said.
The battle against invasive trees at the refuge doesn’t end in February. Seeds from non-native trees that people plant at their homes naturally spread, so the refuge can expect invasive reinforcements.
“Birds are a big one,” Montgomery said in reference to a source of invasive tree seeds. “Birds flying over and doing what birds do as they fly can deposit them everywhere.”