In May of 1999, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ronda
Storms’ office received a letter from a concerned resident and
environmental activist in southern Hillsborough County, the late
Barbara Waddell. The letter contained a number of requests/
suggestions concerning environmental protection in the Ruskin
area and the Cockroach Bay ecosystem, with particular focus on
the control and eradication of invasive plant species such as
Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), lead tree (Leucaena leu-
cocephala), and Australian pine (Casuarina spp.). Suggestions con-
cerning the control and eradication of invasive non-native plant
species included: identification of one point of contact through
which county eradication efforts could be coordinated; increased
public outreach and staff education programs; improved coordi-
nation with state and federal exotic control efforts; contact with
other counties to identify successful control tactics; and better
coordination in the use of volunteers.
In response to these concerns, the County Administrator’s
office directed the formation of the Invasives Control Work Group
to evaluate County efforts to control and eradicate non-native pest
plant species. The work group consisted of individuals from
numerous County departments, as well as interested citizens.
Over a 12-month period, the group formulated recommendations
and presented them in a report to the Hillsborough County Board
of County Commissioners. Following the Board’s approval on
August 16, 2000, administrative staff from the Parks and
Recreation Department and the Public Works Department met to
implement the recommendations, with the Parks and Recreation
Department in the lead role. In October of 2001, the Hillsborough
County Invasive Species Task Force (ISTF) was born.
Who makes up the Invasive Species Task Force?
The Hillsborough County Invasive Species Task Force (ISTF)
is made up of several Hillsborough County Departments, local
and state government agencies, non-profit organizatio