About a year ago the Presque Isle Weed Warrior program began battling the park’s invasive plants like Phragmities, Garlic Mustard and Oriental Bittersweet. The program which is coordinated by PA Sea Grant is getting ready to kick-off year two of fighting the invasive plants on Presque Isle. Matthew Pluta, program coordinator, is looking for a number of Presque Isle lovers and earth-minded volunteers to help with the 2013 program.
In 2012 the Weed Warriors were aggressive in defending for the natural diversity of the Presque Isle ecosystem. Volunteers spent over 740 hours cutting Bittersweet vines and bagging 400 garbage bags of Garlic Mustard which were removed from the park for proper disposal. 2013 is a new year and the battle and program are gearing up to get started. The 2013 year will begin with Matt hosting a public training event at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center on April 15, 2013 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
This training session is open to the public and I encourage anyone with interest in the program or with a love of Presque Isle to at least sit in on the session and see how their particular skills can help the park. If you have any questions about the program or this session call Matt at 814 835-8069 Ext. 104. You can also visit the Weed Warriors on Facebook at www.facebook.com/weedwarriorspisp.
Why is this program important? Why you should consider volunteering? First of all invasive plants threaten the very existence of many of our native plants which ultimately threatens the survival of wildlife on the park. The invasive plants on Presque Isle easily compete and many times kill native plants by capturing light, water and soil all of which are basic needs for plants to grow. For example, Oriental Bittersweet vines will often invade a maple tree and in many cases this will ultimately cover nearly the entire surface of the host tree. This prevents light from reaching the Maple tree leaves and in a short time suffocating it. Phragmities tend to grow very tall in height and have extremely long root systems. They steal water, light and nutrients that would otherwise allow native plants to survive. In the Thompson Bay area, they are virtually closing the all-important shallow fish spawning areas.
Why should you volunteer? Well, there are functions that almost all volunteers can perform. When you learn to recognize Garlic Mustard, you will be able to help. Simply properly knowing the why’s, where’s and how’s of Garlic Mustard pulling can get you started. Presque Isle needs your help and I am sure most people will enjoy their time as a Weed Warrior. The last advantage is you will meet some pretty wonderful people and make new friends.
See you on the park!!
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