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Night & Day at Nottoway: May 23

Progress Report from the Heart of the Forest:

With two workdays behind us Invasive Plant Removal volunteers are making a visible difference in the heart of the Nottoway forest. On many of the trees in the one-acre site, readers will see that the dark green leaves of winter creeper are turning brown and drying. Check out the area that borders the fitness path. Some of the large Amur bush honeysuckle shrubs have been removed, making it easier to spot a few native dogwoods, hollies and spicebushes, which have survived the proliferation of non-native shrubs, vines and plants over the past decades. It also gives small tulip poplar seedlings some space and sunlight, as well as native violets and mayflowers.

So far, we are targeting winter creeper and Amur bush honeysuckle, manually removing creeper vines from 30-40 year old trees with saws, loppers and screwdrivers. Flat-headed screwdrivers are a great tool for prying creeper vines from tree bark. Use of a weed wrench is necessary to extract honeysuckle shrub roots from the ground. Vines and shrubs are then chopped and bagged for removal from the park.

The next task will be removal of the dense carpet of winter creeper shrubs growing on the forest floor. Clearing a circle around each tree will make it much harder for Creeping Euonymus to enter tree-climbing mode but eventually all creeper shrubs must be removed from the site.

Invasive number three, multiflora rose, is in full bloom at the site. As volunteers found out last week, it can be a freestanding shrub or become entwined with winter creeper and Amur bush honeysuckle. Cotton gloves were no match for the thorny canes of this invasive shrub! The writer now understands the true meaning of “impenetrable thickets that crowd out native plant species and discourage native birds from nesting”. When we reach this phase of the project, bring leather gloves to workdays.

Still think you won’t really get a good workout outside at the IMA site? Join us on June 2nd and see for yourself. Talk to returning volunteers and discover how good it feels to save trees and wildlife habitat. It’s hard but rewarding work. We need many more volunteers to clear the area of invasive species before the fall planting of native seedlings and plants. Note that July and August workdays will begin at 8 am.

How You Can Help

Next Workdays: Saturdays, 9 am-Noon, June 2 and June 23; 8-11 am, July 14, August 4 and August 25

Dress: long pants and sleeves, gloves, hiking boots or sturdy shoes

Gear: water, hat and, if you have them, loppers, pruners and flat-headed screwdriver

Directions: If driving to 9601 Courthouse Rd, Vienna, take main entrance and enter first parking lot on your right. Enter Fitness Trail behind Field 4 (soccer field next to lot), and walk past picnic tables/Fitness Station 2 on left. Continue past Fitness Stations 3 & 13 and look for bright orange ribbons on trees to the right; meet at first tree.

RSVP: call 703-324-8681 or email friendsofnottoway@gmail.com

Weather Cancellation: in the event of lightning, thunder and/or heavy rain but will work in light rain

More Information: http://fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/resources/ima