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Park Plan Takes Aim at Invasive Species

December 30, 2015 · 1 minute read

Writing in the Times-Dispatch the day after Christmas, Outdoors columnist Tee Clarkson covered an ambitious project in the James River Park System that I think deserves a wider audience. I first heard about the project to inventory, map and manage the invasive species in the entire 500-some-acre park from the James River Association‘s Amber Ellis a few weeks back.

Hikers on the Northbank Trail traverse a field of kudzu.

Hikers on the Northbank Trail traverse a field of kudzu.

It sounded like a daunting undertaking, but by that point in early December, Ellis said, the inventorying had been done. The next step was a to actually create an an invasive species management plan. That is being done by the firm of Vanasse, Hangen and Brustlin. Then the hard work of actually removing and limiting the spread of invasive species like English ivy, Tree of Heaven, and many others would begin.

One of the neat aspects of the project is how many local groups came together to participate. As Clarkson writes: There are more than 15 supporting organizations that have helped implement the plan with six taking the lead: The Richmond Tree Stewards, VCU, James River Outdoor Coalition, Friends of the James River Park, Riverine Master Naturalists and the James River Association.

According to Chris Senfield, and environmental scientist for VHB who lives near the park…“no one is doing a project like this. No one has been brave enough to try it.”

Goats were employed this past summer to battle English ivy near the JRPS headquarters.

Goats were employed this past summer to battle English ivy near the JRPS headquarters.

Stage 3 will involve the implementation and treatment of invasive species throughout the park. This will be done in a variety of manners, from using goats for landscaping, as well as potentially using fire, and of course good, old-fashion boots on the ground and clippers in the hands.

Great work by Clarkson bringing this project to light. It’ll be interesting to see how it is implemented in the coming months. Stay tuned.