West Reading Avenues Winter 2021-22 - 20

In the Community
mitigating invasive plants in its parklands. Four additional
knotweed stands have taken root in the park since 2016. So
far, all are quite small, but they will not remain so. The more I
learned about invasive plants, the more of them I came to see.
One example is porcelain berry, a particularly 'bad actor' which
is reaching further and further into the Wet Meadow from the
edge of the Creek Path. It smothers other plants by forming
a dense, flat mat and it climbs trees and can pull them down.
What is the solution?
If we as a community continue to do nothing to push back
against introduced plants, in our yards as well as in our parks,
the Wyomissing Park will gradually become unrecognizable in
places and the food web that supports insects, birds, and us
will continue to weaken. Pushing back against invasive species
is a huge task that requires the concerted efforts of everyone
who manages any green space of any size. Although I feel sure
Wyomissing could afford to begin to devote some resources to
this effort, no municipality or other manager of public green
space has the resources to fight this battle without the help
of volunteers.
In my search for solutions, I came across an initiative called
Weed Wrangle® that provides a template for a more effective
approach to controlling invasive plants than a lot of small and
disjointed efforts. As described on weedwrangle.org, a Weed
Wrangle® is a " one-day, area-wide, volunteer effort to help rescue
our public parks and green spaces from non-native invasive
species through hands-on removal of especially harmful trees,
vines, and flowering plants. Supervised by an expert in invasive
weed management, Weed Wrangle® volunteers learn, practice,
and begin a habit of maintaining an area free of non-native
invasive plants and encourage replanting with natives in removal
areas. " This idea originated with members of the Nashville,
TN chapter of the Garden Club of America in 2015 and has
been so successful it has spread to 23 states.
Shortly after I learned about Weed Wrangle® I reached out
by email and promptly received a phone call from one of the
founders, Cayce McAllister of Nashville. With her advice and
encouragement I found a local naturalist, Mike Slater, who
agreed to serve as the invasive plant expert for a small pilot
Weed Wrangle® in the Wet Meadow this year. In May of this
year Mike surveyed the Wet Meadow with me, spotting a small
Autumn olive plant I had missed (the first one in the park), and
he prioritized a few plants for removal. I contacted our Parks
and Recreation Director, Dan Macrina, and attended meetings
of the Park and Shade Tree Commission, where I presented a
detailed proposal for a volunteer project.
18 Avenues Winter 2021-22
The proposal was approved, and Dan Macrina kindly supplied
our volunteer group with tools and other supplies. On October
23 a group of six of us got busy and had a lot of fun while
doing an amazing amount of good work in just a couple of
hours. The Autumn olive was removed by its roots, along
with some Common mugwort, several clumps of ornamental
grass, and one small knotweed plant. Mike Slater treated each
removal area with a mix of native grass and wildflower seeds.
In addition to Mike and myself, thanks should go to volunteers
Holly Armbuster, Sue Monk, Maria Braun, and Liz Cates.
Natalie Marioni of PennState Berks Extension helped the
effort by disseminating my plea for volunteers to members of
the Master Watershed Steward program.
With a successful pilot program completed, the next step
is to identify a local organization willing to take the lead in
organizing a true community-wide Weed Wrangle® involving
free educational events and volunteer weed removal in as
many parks, state forests, and other green spaces as possible.
Usually this role is filled by a local Garden Club of America
chapter, but Berks County has no such club. So I will shortly
be knocking on doors (virtually) in hopes of finding allies in
this campaign to rescue the Wyomissing Park and other green
spaces in the interests of our insects, birds, and all of us who
depend on the food web that starts with plants.
Resources
Invasive plants in Pennsylvania
PA DCNR:
www.dcnr.pa.gov/Conservation/WildPlants/InvasivePlants
Help with invasives and with gardening
with native plants
Penn State Extension Berks County Garden Hotline:
berksmg@psu.edu or 610-378-1327
Penn State Extension Home Garden News (monthly e-newsletter):
https://extension.psu.edu/master-gardener-team-sign-up
Selecting native plants and local resources
National Audubon Society:
www.audubon.org/native-plants
World Wildlife Federation:
www.nwf.org/NativePlantFinder
http://www.weedwrangle.org http://www.dcnr.pa.gov/Conservation/WildPlants/InvasivePlants https://extension.psu.edu/master-gardener-team-sign-up http://www.audubon.org/native-plants http://www.nwf.org/NativePlantFinder

West Reading Avenues Winter 2021-22

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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/WestReadingAvenues/WestReadingAvenuesWinter2020-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/WestReadingAvenues/WestReadingAvenuesFall2020
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