Letter to the Editor | "Yes! Remove the Invasive Plants from City Property!" by Barbara Gurtner

Pictured: Brazilian Pepper Tree
"I strongly object to the stance taken by my councilwoman, Adelaide Marlatt, my neighbors and friends who oppose the removal of the invasive plants from the City of Rockport’s property along Tule Creek.

That the State of Texas has had the foresight to promote this necessary project and has granted the City money to carry this out is to be commended. The two plants mentioned, Chinese Tallow trees (Wikipedia) and Brazilian Pepper trees (Wikipedia) have long been known to take over habitat, crowd out native species, and undermine native plants that support wildlife in our area. There is also the problem with toxicity of the Chinese Tallow tree leaves affecting the soil.

That the immediate removal will not be aesthetic is short-sighted. It may take years for new plantings to mature, but there will again be beautiful trees and habitat there. Not removing the trees now will create future problems and increase expense of correction.

Bringing up the problems of deer population, which already exist in the Rockport Country Club, is a separate issue that also must be addressed. Deer, foxes, raccoons, opossum and other wildlife are constantly made homeless from loss of habitat because of development in our area. Animal population control as the human population increases is a hard issue to discuss, but it is necessary. Stopping the removal of Chinese Tallow on the Tule Creek Property will not stop the deer problem in the subdivision.

And stopping removal of the invasive plant species doesn’t address the issues of land management and growth of development, clearing cutting, removing understory growth, paving over land to make in impermeable, not to mention the destruction of habitat that is necessary for the migration of birds through our area. The loss of habitat contributes to the decrease of their survival and adversely affects one of the largest attractions to this area, birdwatching. That the City of Rockport and the City Council had the foresight to purchase the Tule Creek property and to preserve it is to be highly commended.

Have you talked to the City of Port Aransas or Corpus Christi about their current problems with invasive species and the cost involved?

Or the State of Florida who’s problem with invasives is used as a study by other states?

Please reconsider your stance and support good land management in Rockport by going forward with the removal of invasive plant species on the City of Rockport’s land.

- Barbara Gurtner


TexasAgriLife Extension Service in Aransas County

Invasive plants in Aransas County and alternative plantings

Chinese Tallow Tree
Ecological Threat: Chinese tallow will transform native habitats into monospecific (single species) tallow forests in the absence of land management practices. Chinese tallow alters light availability for other plant species. Fallen tallow leaves contain toxins that create unfavorable soil conditions for native plant species. Chinese tallow will outcompete native plant species, reducing habitat for wildlife as well as forage areas for livestock.
From the University of Texas Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
After habitat destruction, invasive species are the second greatest threat to biodiversity. Invasives threaten the survival of native plants and animals, interfere with ecosystem functions, and hybridize with native species resulting in negative genetic impacts.
The City of Port Aransas problems with invasive species, particularly the Brazilian Pepper
The State of Florida



  1. Anonymous1/30/2013

    Good stance, and I agree. More people should stick their necks out like this when they believe in something! Kudos Barbara!

  2. Ramona Johnson LeBlanc1/30/2013

    very well put!!

    1. Barbara Gurtner1/30/2013

      Thank you Ramona. If you can, please come to the next City Council meeting on Feb 12th. Or if you cannot attend, please write your council member, the City of Rockport to express your opinion on this issue.

    2. Ramona Johnson LeBlanc1/30/2013

      i will and i will also tell everyone about it.

  3. Janie Jones Carroll1/30/2013

    Another point of view and I agree. Its good for our elected officials that there is another opinion. Thanks Barbara

  4. Something must be done about those trees or it will just get worse. Good for you Barbara

  5. Lisa Shinn Kucera1/30/2013

    Those trees need to go!

  6. Can you, Barbara, or someone else, simply explain Marlatt's stance? Just keep the trees because of aesthetics? I completely agree about the deer population in the Country Club!!...It's out of hand, and directly related to humans taking away their habitat! ...In regards to deer, I highly suggest we start using deer birth control (no joke!!) than a mass slaughter in our neighborhoods! I know of other states who have used birth control to limit the herd population. Thanks for writing this Barbara!

  7. The removal of the trees follows a well-planned, researched Invasive Plant Management (IPM) system, the results of which will mean better water conservation for all. The native plants will see sunlight and have access to nutrients without the presence of the invasives. Opponents state that the area will be razed and cleared, which is not true. Auburn University has conducted extensive research and published excellent recommendations on this subject, as have other agricultural programs. This will benefit the citizens of the area.

  8. Joe T Brown1/31/2013

    Well said Barbara. The invasive species of trees/vines are a different subject to our growth issues and it's impact on the wildlife. While the removal of the invasive species may be an eyesore short term, the impact of ignoring will have a negative long term effect. Many Texas coastal communities have learned this lesson through improper land management and are now paying the price of a changed ecosystem and it's economic impact.

  9. Debbie Kucera1/31/2013

    I am all for native species, in fact I had my St. Augustine dug up, and am planting natives. However I think there should be a compromise here. Take out the invasives, leave the natives, and do it slowly without disturbing the wildlife as much as possible. After all, isn't that who its for?

  10. Sally Mitchell2/05/2013

    I still have many questions about this plan, and would like to see the City publish the exact details for further research and public discussion before proceeding. My main questions at this point are: (1) why doesn't the plan include at least minimal planting of native plants to 'kickstart' habitat recovery, and (2) is this plan the least disruptive possible to the habitat. Once this project is completed it cannot be undone, so I urge the City to seek more expert comment before proceeding.

  11. It seems that people came to Rockport in the first place because of all the beautiful trees and the "country" feel to our coastal town. Then,once they are here, they want the big city convenience of Starbucks, Wal-Mart and a Stripes and a liquor store every few blocks. The kind of thinking that says, "there are too many deer here" "the birds are pooping on my car" is the kind of thinking that has already ruined Rockport. If you don't want to share with birds and animals, then leave.


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