(Port Aransas, TX) – The Chamber of Commerce and the City of Port Aransas are aware of the removal of the Brazilian Peppertrees near the Joan & Scott Holt Paradise Pond. We are happy that so many longtime residents and visitors have enjoyed our little piece of paradise for many years.

We work diligently to try to preserve the uniqueness and ambience that has made Port Aransas such a popular beach destination. As with any special town that appeals to many people, progress and development are inevitable.

The developer of the new construction that is taking place along Port Street is working closely with the city and birding and horticulture experts to ensure his development does not destroy Paradise Pond. The trees that were removed on the north side, initially by AEP (under their power line right of way) and beyond that by the developer, were invasive Brazilian Peppertrees. Those peppertrees had overtaken and killed the native willow trees that once surrounded Paradise Pond. Both entities agreed not to cut down any willows, however only two willows were found at the site. City officials are working on a plan to replant willows and other native vegetation because of the importance of preserving habitat and the tourism that ensues. It will be a long and expensive process to regrow the native vegetation and keep the peppertrees from returning and once again overtaking the newly planted vegetation.

Brazilian Pepper is native to South America and was introduced as a landscape ornamental plant. It becomes invasive in subtropical areas in Texas, Florida, and Coastal California and does not tolerate freezing weather. Freezes regularly occurred in our area in the past, but changing climate has led to much warmer winters over the last 30 years. As a result, the pepper trees have persisted and taken over more habitats. The red peppers are eaten by birds, mammals, and ants, which are primarily responsible for their dispersal and spread. Once established, Brazilian Pepper quickly displaces the native vegetation, often forming dense monocultures that reduce the biological diversity of plants and animals in the invaded area. Most of the Texas coast from Galveston to Brownsville, the California coast and Southern Florida are fighting these invasive pepper trees. They have taken over the native vegetation that is highly diverse and supports a large number of animals and plants.

Rest assured that the City of Port Aransas cares deeply about our nature amenities, and has identified, preserved and enhanced more acres than any town of similar size. We are committed to continue those efforts.

For listings of accommodations, restaurants, shopping and a myriad of “island-style” activities visit portaransas.org or call 800-45-COAST and come see why the localsloveporta.com