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County Weed Warriors Need Help

Students at Linton Spring Elementary School search out garlic mustard for removal.
Students at Linton Spring Elementary School search out garlic mustard for removal.

Hopefully, spring weather will soon arrive. We all look forward to seeing the landscape green up after the bare winter. Unfortunately, much of the early greenery you see along the roads is not native plants but rather is composed of invasive, non-native trees, shrubs, and perennials. These exotic plants spread extensively by producing copious amounts of seed or aggressive runners. Because they leaf out early, they also shade out our native plants.

Losing our native plants is just one of the problems that result. Our native animals and insects have evolved to eat native plants and cannot digest the exotics. After the loss of habitat, the encroachment of invasive exotic plants is the leading cause of loss of our wildlife species.

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In 2010, the Carroll County Forest Conservancy District Board established the Carroll County Weed Warriors to combat the invasive plants taking over our nature centers. The Carroll County Master Gardeners and the Catoctin Group of the Sierra Club now co-sponsor the Weed Warriors.

Since 2010, over 160 volunteers, both students and adults, have taken free training on how to identify and remove these invasive plants. These individuals have donated over 500 hours at 30 weed-removal sessions. The Weed Warriors have helped tackle invasive exotic plants at Bear Branch Nature Center/Hashawha Environmental Center, Piney Run Nature Center, Charlotte's Quest Nature Center, the Aubrey Carroll Audubon Sanctuary, and the Washington Road Community Trail. Some individuals turn out time after time to help remove weeds, while other volunteers may only be able to help out at a single weeding. Every hour of help is a benefit.

The Carroll Forestry Board would like to encourage Carroll businesses and organizations to join in. Organizations can select a day and location where they would like to help, and a trained weed warrior will join them to guide the way after getting permission from the site's manager.

The Weed Warriors are offering free training on the identification and removal of invasive exotic weeds on Saturday, April 13, from 2 to 4 pm, at Bear Branch Nature Center. The training consists of a one-hour online training course to take at home before the 2-hour field training class on April 13. After completing the class, an individual receives a Weed Warrior identification card, free material on identifying invasive exotic plants, and email notifications of opportunities to assist in the removal of exotic invasive weeds at county locations.

The first weedings for 2013 are scheduled for Saturday, April 6, from 9 to 12, at the Washington Road Community Trail and on Saturday, April 20, from 9 to 12, at Bear Branch Nature Center. Weed removal sessions are held at Bear Branch/Hashawha the third Saturday of each month from 9 to 12, weather permitting. Weed removal at the other sites is more ad hoc.

To register for the free training on April 13, contact Carolyn Puckett at

. Or to learn more about how you can help, give Carolyn a call at 410 876-1995.

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