Invasive exotic species can radically alter the natural processes our native plants and animals rely on. It is a goal in the Jekyll Island Conservation Plan, and part of our mission, to minimize the effects of these exotic species through effective monitoring, timely control efforts, and coordinated policy and planning. Jekyll Island has been a key contributor to the Coastal Georgia Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CoGA CISMA), an alliance established in March 2012 to work across Federal, State, Local, and private lands for invasive species management. Our Conservation Land Manager represents the JIA on the CISMA steering committee.
The CoGA CISMA focuses its resources in the 11-county coastal Georgia area to manage at a scale large enough for viable early detection and rapid response control efforts. The area covers approximately 3.9 million acres and includes a variety of upland habitats, wetland habitats, historic sites, scenic sites, and recreational areas with over 100 miles of coastline, about 350,000 acres of salt & brackish marsh, and a series of eight barrier island clusters. Approximately 841,600 acres, or 22% of the land, is considered to be conservation lands, and represents most of the area managed by CISMA partner agencies.
Cooperative efforts through the CISMA are integral in helping the JIA identify, control, and in some cases eliminate damaging non-native invasive plants like Chinese tallow tree and Brazilian pepper tree, and invasive animals like Cuban tree frogs. These tree species can displace native plant diversity to the point of transforming entire landscapes to a monoculture. With the help of the AmeriCorps national service volunteer program, we are able to effectively manage certain populations of these invasive species on Jekyll Island.