The fight against invasive plants is a difficult one, as a matter of fact, it is a battle you shouldn't necessarily expect to win.
Removing invasive plants is not an easy enterprise, especially when it has to be done in a wetland, a rather muddy, wet and messy habitat to deal with. Our first Phragmites removal project started in 2010, and even though we made great strides for a couple of years, the effort fell apart when we left the site unattended for a growing season due to lack of funding, and, we were also busy with other ventures. One growing season, then another growing season… and then, you guessed it! Phragmites took over again. Ironically, Phragmites had previously encroached upon the same site after a previous wetland revegetation effort (which we still don’t know who did) was left unmaintained and the Phragmites literally took the whole site over. So, Phragmites = 2, people = ZERO. Ouch!!
By Ashley Parker
In the fall of 2013 and in the spring of 2014, AWS brought in Eco-Goats to attack the kudzu infestation along the Northwest Branch in Kirkwood Park of Hyattsville, MD. As discussed in an AWS blog written on November 26, 2013, Kudzu is a non-native vine that is very aggressive once it becomes established in a natural landscape. It establishes quickly, and is very difficult to eradicate. The goats were a good tool for AWS land managers, as they reduced the thick biomass at the site which has paved the way for the next important steps in managing kudzu at this site.
You may have heard about "the vine that ate the south", Kudzu. Or you may have googled the name of the invasive just to get a peek at the plentiful photos of the vine available on the web. This includes staggering pictures of the vine choking out shrubs, trees, cars and even entire houses! Well, Kudzu is not just a problem of the south, anymore. The vine has been gradually spreading out of the the southeast where it was originally introduced to tackle the overwhelming soil erosion problems faced in that region as a result of unsustainable farming practices. Nowadays Kudzu can be found north and west all the way to Michigan, upstate New York and Washington state.
The heat island effect created by the highly urban environment of the Anacostia watershed makes it a Kudzu haven.
Our 2 years of hacking, mowing and spraying Phragmites in the mud are paying off! There's only about 37% regrowth of Phragmites reeds at our wetland restoration site north of NY Avenue Bridge in Colmar Manor, MD. This fringe wetland is located on the west bank of the River between the confluence with Dueling Creek and the NY Ave. Bridge, the MD/DC border. This site used to be part of a wetland revegetation effort that was left unattended (not by AWS, though!), the result, a 30,745 sq. ft. dense population of Phragmites (Phragmites australis). For the newbies, Phragmites is a fast-growing grass native to the Old World that aggressively outcompetes the local native wetland plants, forming monocultures that encroach upon both natural and restored wetlands and reduces the species diversity in the wetland ecosystem.
The yellow area shows the 30,745 sq. ft. population of Phragmites we have been removing for the last 2 years right by the MD/DC border.
Written by Mallory Shramek, AWS Summer Stewardship Intern
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