Brav­ing frigid temps to re­move in­va­sive plants

Rappahannock News - - OBITUARIES • SCHOOLS - By Ruth Ann Welch Spe­cial to the Rap­pa­han­nock News

Nine Rap­pa­han­nock res­i­dents braved the freez­ing cold one re­cent day to con­tinue ef­forts to rid the Rap­pa­han­nock County Park of decades of in­va­sive plant growth.

This ef­fort, led by the Rap­pa­han­nock County Recre­ational Fa­cil­i­ties Au­thor­ity (RCRFA) and Old Rag Mas­ter Nat­u­ral­ists (ORMN), cleared a 20 by 60 foot sec­tion of in­va­sive Ja­panese Honey­suckle and Ai­lan­thus on the north edge of the park’s “ur­ban for­est” that will add more space to the lawn in the park.

Spear­headed by RCRFA’s Tor­ney Van Acker, Bon­nie Beers, Ruth Welch, and Jean Lil­lard, they were joined by ORMN Mike Wenger, Rap­pFLOW’s Donna Mar­quisee, Page Glen­nie, Lisa Glen­nie, and Bryant Welch in the bat­tle of “man ver­sus in­va­sives.”

Nearby, Mar­que­see, with the help of the Pied­mont En­vi­ron­men­tal Coun­cil’s Celia Vuo­colo and Mar­garet Mur­ray, took the lead on plant­ing a na­tive pol­li­na­tor garden that will be the start of sev­eral na­tive garden plant­ings in the park, in­clud­ing on Rap­pa­han­nock Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive and Virginia Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion right of ways.

“This is a very am­bi­tious multi-year project” said ORMN’s Wenger, also a Rap­pa­han­nock League for En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion (RLEP) board mem­ber. He is au­thor of the park’s “In­va­sive Man­age­ment Plan” and RappU’s “In­va­sive Plants” course in­struc­tor.

“We re­moved some small in­va­sive plants last spring with the help of the RCHS En­vi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence Class,” he said. “How­ever, re­mov­ing larger in­va­sive vines and trees is very la­bor-in­ten­sive work.”

Af­ter the team re­moved most of the Ja­panese Honey­suckle vines, Van Acker, the RCRFA vice chair and also an RLEP board mem­ber, felled more than thirty Ai­lan­thus trees which make up much of the park’s for­est.

“Next year, we are plan­ning to host monthly sus­tain­abil­ity ‘clean up’ days on the sec­ond Satur­day of each month for lo­cal Old Rag Mas­ter Nat­u­ral­ists and oth­ers to get vol­un­teer hours,” said Beers, a re­cently ap­pointed RCRFA board mem­ber. “We wel­come other groups, in­di­vid­u­als, and stu­dents to join us in this im­por­tant eco­log­i­cal stew­ard­ship project.”

Watch for an­nounce­ments about the Sec­ond Satur­day Sus­tain­abil­ity work days in the Rap­pa­han­nock News, ORMN web­site and list serve, and on so­cial me­dia.

BY RUTH ANN WELCH

Ja­panese Honey­suckle and other in­va­sive plants are re­moved by volunteers from the Rap­pa­han­nock County Park on a re­cent snowy day.

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