We have been working for about three weeks along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We started at the point where the Parkway passes over the majestic French Broad River, and heading northbound until the Parkway passes over Highway 25. Our primary goal for this site is to save the trees from invasive plant overgrowth. Trees smothered and killed by invasive overgrowth have the potential to fall prematurelly into the road and into traffic. Downed trees also allow for more sunlight to reach the forest floor, and encourage further invasion by non-native plants. Oriental bittersweet has been the main focus, however we have also been encountering Japanese barberry, autumn olive, multiflora rose, non-native honeysuckles, Microstegium, and privet.
We started by walking along the Parkway, cutting oriental bittersweet vines off of trees and spraying the exposed vines with a small amount of herbicide (25% Accord). We then walked the distance again with herbicide backpack sprayers (3% Accord) on our backs, spraying the leaves of invasive plants. We covered a 1.59 mile stretch along the Parkway.
This site has been a nice change of pace for us, with beautiful views into deep clear woods. On the other hand, we spend much of our time standing on steep slopes which is hard on our feet and ankles. We have found that rolling down a hill doesn’t hurt as bad as it would seem, especially when there are soft baby pine trees to catch your fall.
We have spent a couple of days working with other SCA members at this site. Kali, an SCA intern who works at our Park Service office, came out in the field with us for two days. We also spent two days working with the CWPP Sanford Team from Greensboro, NC. We all had a lot of fun learning about the pleasures and pitfalls of working with invasive plants.
We finished! After a couple months of working along the road it is a huge deal to finally finish.