The spring season this year was good to plants, so they grew at such a rate along the Mount Vernon bike trail that blocked visibility made safety a
factor. So the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail jumped into action in early July with the clippers and weed whackers to clear things up.
There was a spot just south of the airport, and a few more by Daingerfield Island. Fingers pointed to the dreaded kudzu at the power plant bridge they are eyeing for a clean up as well as a couple of other bridges in that area. “Volunteers did extensive vegetation removal at three trail curves in June to help prevent crashes,” they posted on the website.
Most of the blind corners that were worked on so far were identified in the Mount Vernon Trail Corridor Study which was a comprehensive assessment of trail conditions and safety. When it comes to the sightlines at curves, trail users have brought these to the attention of the Friends group, said president Judd Isbell.
The bike trail is part of the National Park Service, and the Friends group is an official partner of the George Washington Memorial Parkway through a Philanthropic Partnership Agreement.
There is an annual work plan with George Washington Memorial Parkway that outlines the activities that the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail will conduct. They've been focusing mainly on improving sight lines through vegetation management, pressure washing bridges and also edging the trail and coordinating the schedule with the GWMP Trail Manager. “George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Trail Manager have been awesome partners to work with and provide a lot of technical assistance and tools,” Isbell added.
Kudzu is known on the trails as the "vine that ate the South" because it is fast growing and can quickly engulf trees and structures. “We'll be removing kudzu to help protect some trees and prevent it from growing over two bridges near the old power plant in Alexandria,” Isbell said. All of their volunteer events are designed to not require any special skills or expertise.
They’re always looking for volunteers and noted that the volunteer events are perfect for organized groups like Scouts, church groups, civic organizations and businesses. Individuals interested in having a group volunteer event can contact the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail at firstname.lastname@example.org.