Crow’s Nest: Force of Nature volunteers rock!

March 18, 2012

Yesterday the Natural Lands Trust Force of Nature volunteers met at Crow’s Nest for training in identification and management of invasive plants. Some of them will be performing invasives management  when they volunteer at our preserves; all of them will likely have an opportunity to interact with the public on this topic.

We spent some time in the classroom on the complex subject: Manage for a positive goal, not simply to eliminate the invasive plant; working in less-invaded sites will have greater success; objectives may vary from site to site depending on species present. For example, at Crow’s Nest we don’t have illusions about being able to remove Japanese stiltgrass from disturbed floodplain woods (with more growing upstream from us) but we can, and do, keep it out of a high-quality upland forest here.

Then we went to work in a section of woods that has received little recent attention. It’s about a mile from our visitor center so we took a hayride to get there. Our tractor’s clutch is slipping and probably could not be trusted to pull the haywagon (but soon we will fix); our farmer Frank Hartung offered the use of his brand-new farm tractor, which he even had washed for the occasion. I always thought our tractor had a lot of gears (9 forward, 3 reverse) but this one (if I’m counting correctly) has 24 in each direction. Thank you, Frank!

In an hour the twenty-five Force of Nature volunteers carved a half-acre hole in the multiflora rose, privet, honeysuckle, and barberry that they found in this section of woods. Cutting these plants back will buy time for a diversity of native plants to grow this spring; I will return for more cutting and probably to dab some herbicide on the invasive plants as they resprout. The effect of the volunteers’ work will be even more visible over the next couple weeks as the tops of the  invasive plants, which were already leafing out, wither. It’s amazing to see what a large crew can do!

We didn’t have time for a comprehensive introduction to the preserve but the return hayride did follow Northside Road through our largest section of woods (which has received more attention in recent years than the site on the other side where we had been working and looks comparatively good to me). Then we turned down the farm lane and cut through the fields back to the visitor center, stopping to see our other invasive plant control experts, goats Seamus and Duffy, who were taking a break lounging in the sun in their winter pasture.

Thank you to all the wonderful folks who have joined the Force of Nature team and contribute their time and effort to the stewardship of our preserves!

Posted by Daniel Barringer on March 18, 2012.