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Posted In: Environment

Not Everything Green Is Good for the James River Park System

Andy Thompson

@richmondoutside
February 23, 2018 10:03am

Being “green” doesn’t always equal being “good.” Many of the plants that are now green in the James River Park System actually threaten habitat for native birds, butterflies and other creatures. Many of these plants are not native to our continent and are invasive species.  Chances are some of them are in your neighborhood, and maybe even in your own yard.

The James River Park System Invasive Plant Task Force wants Richmonders to know that everyone can lend a hand in managing these unwanted visitors. The first step is to learn what they are, what they look like and how to deal with them in your yard as well as in the park.

Learning and hands-on opportunities are scheduled in the park system all next week — Feb. 25 through March 2 — as part of National Invasive Species Awareness Week. Providing advice and hands-on experience will be members of the local volunteer groups making up the park system’s Invasive Plant Task Force.

“The goal of our NISAW events is to encourage Richmonders to see the park system and their own yards differently,” said task force coordinator Mary Wickham. “A little work goes a long way, and if we control the invasive plants at our own homes, we help improve the health of the park system and the James River watershed.”

Here are some of the things you, your family and your friends can enjoy: The Kick Off from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, at Pony Pasture will explain the impact of invasives’ on local ecosystems and show you how to identify and remove the worst culprits. You can “free a tree” from invasive vines, take a guided walk with botanist Johnny Townsend, see the popular goats that devour the invasives, and possibly win a native plant to take home.

Watch talented botanical artists with the Plants of the James River Project at work at the Reedy Creek Nature Center from 2-4 p.m. Friday, March 2, and take home their invasive species coloring book.

Throughout the week from Monday, Feb. 26, through Friday, March 2, you can join park staff and task force volunteers to remove invasives in a different area each day.

Click here for more details.

The James River Park System Invasive Plant Task Force is a partnership of 12 local organizations that joined forces in 2015 to address invasive plant coverage in the park. The Task Force partnered with VHB, Inc. to survey invasive plants for a baseline study that year and since then has collaborated to manage invasive plants and to restore habitat by planting native species in project focus areas.


About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?


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