Writing by NEFF Landowner Outreach Manager Lisa Hayden
Most New England owners of wooded land have encountered certain areas of their property where invasive plants are taking over and crowding out native plants that wildlife depend on. Thanks to a grant from Project Native, New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) has been able to support an outreach and education demonstration site in the Southern Berkshires—specifically in Great Barrington, at a Division Street bridge site on the Housatonic River—where landowners and neighbors can learn how to cope with invasive species, and about the benefits of native trees and plants.
NEFF and partners from Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) and Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) held a work day in Great Barrington at the Division Street bridge site, where BNRC holds a conservation restriction, to remove invasive plants and care for more than 20 native trees and shrubs that had been planted by volunteer crews in November 2019 and last spring. Though the region experienced a drought over the summer, the native plantings completed in spring and last fall were doing well, and even some native plant volunteers, such as blue lobelia and “sneezeweed,” were spotted.
With participants wearing masks and engaging in social distancing, NEFF, HVA and BNRC were also able to lead a small-group invasive plant educational walk at BNRC’s Housatonic Flats in fall 2020. Jess Toro, co-owner of Native Habitat Restoration, LLC, led the walk, sharing her expertise on removal and treatment options for invasive plants.
The project was unable to host in-person walks during spring 2020 due to COVID-19 shutdowns, and as a result, NEFF created an online informational resource that lists common plant invaders and native alternatives from the Division Street site. Check out Why Plant Choice Matters, a Story Map created by 2020 NEFF Terra Corps member Kadie Moonitz, to learn more about this multi-partner project in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
Top banner image: One of the volunteers at a fall 2020 work day helped to remove invasive bittersweet vine, cleared out around native plantings to give them room and light, and gave the thirsty plants a drink of water. Photo by Alison Dixon, HVA.