Come to Sky Meadows State Park for a day of volunteering and stewardship. Community members who are looking for a way to give back are encouraged to come out to the park and get involved in our Stewardship Virginia -Invasive Species Removal Day, Saturday, May 7. Join Trish Bartholomew, the park’s Natural History Interpreter, at the Historic Mount Bleak House at 11 a.m. Trish will talk briefly about the invasive species in the park and give instruction on proper plant removal. Then, you’ll spend the day out in the park removing some of the invaders while enjoying the beauty of Sky Meadows State Park.
Stewardship Virginia is a statewide initiative that takes place twice a year to help citizens enhance and conserve Virginia’s naturaland cultural resources. Our springtime Stewardship Virginia campaign started April 1 and runs through May 31, 2011; the fall campaign will start September 1 and will run through October 31. Stewardship Virginia focuses on projects that:
- Enhance water quality;
- Control invasive species;
- Improve recreational resources;
- Preserve historical & cultural resources;
- Conserve natural heritage resources;
- Educate people about recreational, historical, cultural, wildlife, forest, and water resources; and
- Improve wildlife habitat and tree cover.
Sky Meadows State Park will be focused on invasive plant species removal. Invasive plant species, also known as exotics, non-natives, or non-indigenous plants, are species intentionally or accidentally introduced by human activity into a region in which they did not evolve. Many of these species are well known and are economically important in agriculture and horticulture, such as wheat, soybeans, and tulips. Most species do not become established outside of cultivation and, if they do, they usually have few impacts on natural communities.
Non-native plants can, however, escape cultivation and displace native plant species, reduce wildlife habitat, and alter the ecosystem processes. Across the country and around the world, invasive species have become one of the most serious threats to native species, natural communities, and ecosystem processes. They also exact a costly toll from human economies that depend on resources and services provided by healthy ecosystems. Examples of their impact include: destruction of vast areas of western rangelands, clogging of important waterways, and increased costs in maintaining open power-line rights-of-way.
The two invasive plant species that Sky Meadows State Park will be focusing on are Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculata). Garlic Mustard, also known as Garlic Root, Hedge Garlic, Sauce-alone, Jack-in-the-bush, Penny Hedge and Poor Man's Mustard, is a biennial flowering plant in the Mustard family. It is native to Europe, western and central Asia, and northwestern Africa. It was introduced into North America as a culinary herb in the 1800s and has become an invasive plant species in much of the region. Garlic Mustard has been listed as a noxious or restricted plant in the states of Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, West Virginia and Washington since 2006.
Oriental Bittersweet, also commonly called Oriental Staff Vine, Japanese Bittersweet, or Asiatic Bittersweet, is a woody vine that is native to East Asia. It was introduced into North America in 1860s. It closely resembles the North American native species, American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), with which it readily hybridizes with. Both the Oriental Bittersweet and the Garlic Mustard are having extensive impact on local ecosystems, displacing native plant species, and reducing native wildlife.
Volunteers remove Oriental Bittersweet at Sky Meadows' MLK Service Day
Interested in helping out? Come to Sky Meadows on May 7 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Enjoy the park while helping make a difference. Learn what you can do to help curb the effects of invasive plant species in your backyard and help clean up ours. The first 50 participants will receive a certificate of appreciation from Stewardship Virginia.