Weed Warriors to Receive Reinforcements
Have you ever explored a forest in Baltimore City? The Department of Recreation and Parks oversees some of the most spectacular natural areas in the region, and we’re working hard to keep them healthy, safe, and accessible for visitors like you. We, in the Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) Unit, actively monitor and manage non-native invasive (NNI) plants in public spaces all across the city. Our program focuses on the preservation and restoration of natural areas to help alleviate problems like air pollution, heat stress, flooding, and habitat loss. When NNI vegetation is kept in check, Baltimore’s forests and waterways are able to better provide the services that sustain a healthy city.
Before: Japanese Knotweed Removal at Herring Run Park | Photo: Joel Conde
Much like a well-functioning ecosystem, the IVM Unit’s approach to conservation incorporates various methods and numerous partners – each as important as the next! Our philosophy is that all plants, people and animals are interconnected, together forming the urban ecosystem. This summer, for example, we had a group of dedicated high school students help cut back an infestation of invasive Japanese Knotweed along the riverbank at Herring Run Park. By carefully removing the plant, the group created the conditions for native plant regeneration and opened up views of the river to visitors. Not only did the volunteers’ efforts improve the landscape locally, by removing the Japanese Knotweed in one area, they reduced the chance of it spreading to green spaces near and far from Herring Run!
After: Japanese Knotweed Removal at Herring Run Park. Notice the regrowth that occurred 2 weeks later; persistent treatment or herbicide will be necessary. | Photo: A. Bowers
Weed Warriors and volunteers like those at Herring Run are critical partners in the management of Baltimore’s natural resources, so we at Recreation and Parks are thrilled to be able to offer more support toward their efforts. This year we’re enlisting the help of professional IVM contractors to assist with some of our largest, most challenging projects around the city. All crews working on city-owned land will be led by highly-trained and certified staff members, and all work will be done in accordance to local, state and federal laws. The first professional IVM crew will begin working in Gwynns Falls-Leakin Park this fall to treat NNI vegetation prior to the replanting of both the new and old Granite Pipeline corridors. Utilizing mechanical and manual control methods, along with selective, low-volume herbicides, the crews will prevent further ecological disturbance of the forest that would otherwise result from the construction project. After initial management, crews will return to carefully monitor and treat for NNI vegetation as long as the new pipeline is in use.
Recreation and Parks’ policy ensures that all IVM crews place appropriate warning signs and mix BLUE DYE in with any herbicide to visually indicate its presence. The dye will not last more than a couple of days, and its disappearance will signal the uptake of the herbicide by the treated vegetation. Our full-time quality assurance staff member, Taylor Brann, will monitor all of the work conducted to ensure the proper use of treatments and the protection of non-target plants and wildlife.
Example of Japanese Knotweed treated with the cut-stump herbicide method | Photo: Invasive Plant Solutions, Ireland
The specific use of herbicides for IVM may be new for some, so please know that we are happy to attend any community meetings to discuss the topic and answer any questions you may have. We cannot stress enough that our IVM approach will always be thoughtful, efficient, and well-researched. The preservation, accessibility, and safety of our parks is of the utmost importance, and we look forward to expanding our efforts to a park near you very soon.
By Ashley Dickerson-Bowers, BCRP Ecological Conservation Specialist