The North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation manages 32,063 ha of coastal plain lands divided among 26 properties comprised of state parks, state natural areas, and a state recreation area. Of 35 invasive plant species found at 25 reporting sites, Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) and privets (Ligustrum spp.) occurred most frequently, followed by sericea (Lespedeza cuneata), Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum), alligatorweed (Alternanthera philoxeroides), Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), common reed (Phragmites australis ssp. australis), silverberries (Elaeagnus spp.), mimosa (Albizia julibrissin), and wisterias (Wisteria spp.). Current management measures for these species and others include herbicide applications, hand pulling to intensively focused labor with equipment, or use of biological controls. These activities challenge missions, budgets, and staff time of each park unit such that early detection and rapid response are difficult. A dedicated staff position, an invasive plant management team, and the development of simple control guidelines for vines and herbs are recommended to enhance on-site efforts and provide consistency, whereas contractual assistance and collaborative efforts will be needed to control difficult or widespread populations. Regular monitoring and proactive management at sites with few to no invasive species should be given priority to avoid future problems. In addition to current challenges posed by invasive plant populations found at most sites, species introductions and spread as a function of climate change, sea level rise, and tropical storms are likely.
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Vol. 35 • No. 3