Last updated: April 14, 2015
My name is Noelia Aponte-Silva and I am the new Biological Science Technician intern in the Planning and Resources Management Division at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA). I am a SCA/AmeriCorps intern and will be serving at CRNRA for the next 10 months. I have a BA in Biotechnology and graduate studies in Environmental Science with previous field experience from internships in the University of Colorado at Boulder and Harvard Forest. Through this internship I want to develop my field skills, contribute and have an impact in the conservation movement.
CRNRA struggles with an array of exotic species that are displacing the natives, and may ultimately lead to ecosystem replacement. Ten invasive exotic plant species of significant concern have been identified (Kudzu, Privet, Japanese Honeysuckle, English Ivy, Wisteria, Mimosa, Autumn Olive, Stiltgrass, Bradford Pear, Oriental Bittersweet) for their negative effects on diversity, ecosystem function, viewsheds and the park’s economy. The Natural Resources Program developed “EXOT” to offer an effective tool to better monitor, organize and target exotic plant mitigation efforts based on the infestation rate and spread, site characteristics and organisms in infested areas. EXOT uses the ArcGIS platform to manage and visually display spatial and tabular data on exotic species infestations and treatment efforts across the park. As the field leader I will be responsible for the management and implementation of the EXOT project and the coordination of the field efforts associated with the removal of invasive exotic plant species in CRNRA.
A couple of weeks ago I was part of the treatment efforts against Kudzu at the Sope Creek unit, together with the Southeast Coast Exotic Plant Management Team (SE-EPMT), CRNRA staff and volunteers. Also, I worked with a former CRNRA intern, Jessica Su, to establish a new project site of an early Japanese Honeysuckle infestation at Johnson Ferry North. The National Park Service requires from us to “preserve and protect” the natural and cultural resources and our hope is that the EXOT project along with various field efforts can help control and minimize the economic and ecological impacts that invasive species can cause on our natural and cultural resources.