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Over crowded vegetation has become a problem around the main entrance to the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve. It is so thick that observation of the open marsh lands is impossible: impossible to see and even more challenging to interpret. The first stop on the Byway’s self-guided birding trail is engulfed in a “jungle” of vines held up by a mass of sufficated dead trees and brush.

In this “before” Jeff Slater and Paul Olund stand near a mass of foliage with the main “old town road” trail seen behind them on the left. This is just south of the Whipple Bridge. The yellow survey tape is meant to mark the area where a number of invasive species including Asian bittersweet, multi floral rose, and honeysuckle have taken over. An occasional grape vine adds to the interwoven and braided mass. The red peaking through the foliage to the right is a chain link fence gate post that was historically closed during flood conditions. This is a “before” picture.

After about three hours of work with pruning shears, garden racks, machete, bow saws, and other hand tools five of us were able to open up a twenty foot wide panorama around STOP 31. Some of the work was on hands and knees, even on our butts!

This is intended as a demonstration project. No attempt was made to prevent regrowth. Continued cutting is anticipated to keep this area open. Our experience here will factor into the stewardship chapter in the Corridor Management Plan. It is obvious that we will not prevent continued spread of these invasives, but perhaps we can better understand the dynamics of their growth and ways to control their spread. The crew includes Jeff Slater, Mary MacDonald, Nancy Papish, Eric Hamilton, and Paul Olund captured this image.

And a special thanks to Nancy Papish who remembered water. The building heat even on an early spring day was oppressive.

UPDATE JUL 2:

I brought a weed backer to the site and mowed over the regrowth of bittersweet. I also noticed some emergent fern, thistle, and a couple of burdock shoots. I think the idea of over-seeding with native wildflower species after future spring cut-back is a good one.

I spent the better part of an hour in the stand of Japanese Knotweed hacking out a sixty square foot area and generated over 50 pounds of debris. I will dispose of this in the garbage. If we are going to make a dent in this we have to attack it earlier in the season with repeated cuttings (try on a monthly basis?) during the growing season.