Cold-stunned green iguanas, dubbed “chicken of the trees,” made national headlines as they fell from the trees in south Florida during a recent cold snap.
News stories and social media helped to raise public awareness about the damage that can be wrought by the large invasive lizards, which can reach more than five feet and twenty pounds. According to the media reports, these invaders weren’t just munching their way through the succulent plants of south Florida’s gardens, they also wreaked havoc on private properties and important public infrastructure, shorting out power lines and burrowing under structures, causing some of them to collapse. In one city, they reportedly contributed enough damage to a water control structure that the repair bill reached $1.8 million.
Construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of critical infrastructure are key missions for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for the 143-mile Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee, five navigation locks and dams and recreation areas along the 154-mile long Okeechobee Waterway, and Everglades restoration. Maintaining the integrity of these structures and protecting them from damage is integral to the success of these missions.