Loaded down with corridor clearing tools, crosscut saws (with fresh crosscut certifications), and long-sleeve poison-ivy blocking shirts, the Ramsey’s Draft SCA Team set out on their first 10 day hitch of the season. The focus of the beginning of this hitch was all about the two-man crosscut saw. The Team hauled in 6 crosscuts the first day to test their effectiveness in the hardwood forests of Virginia. Many of the saws did not “make the cut” and were deemed unfit for further use.
After spending the first couple of days bucking out bigger logs, the Team went back to clearing trail corridor of branches, saplings, and nettles. Nettles hurt a lot. Don’t sit in them. Heaps of branches and small trees had to be lopped, sawed, and hauled out of sight of the trail. Due to the sheer volume of vegetation being removed from the corridor, it became particularly challenging to avoid compacting new paths into the wilderness. The end result of our meticulous attention to our corridor and our impact outside of the corridor was a very natural looking trail that will remain a pleasant hiking experience for a long time to come.
Further into the hitch, the Team took on slightly different work. A couple of false trails were thoroughly obliterated. Then the group graded out some steep slopes on the banks of the stream. During the last few days of the hitch, the Team was broken into smaller groups and assigned to one of two important projects. One group was put in charge of removing problematic rocks and roots (some really really big roots from a dead hemlock) from a slippery and difficult slope in order to build up a rock retaining wall. The other group was assigned the task of clearing out a trail reroute for a couple hundred feet and methodically obliterate the old portion of trail. This work was largely done with saws, a weed whip, and the fire rake.
Both of these projects turned out beautifully. The rerouted section of trail is very clean and the old section of trail is barely noticeable. The rock retaining wall was completed on the last day of the hitch and is a significant improvement over the original trail. Also on the last day, some initial brush clearing and log bucking was done ahead at the next trail reroute. All in all, it was a very demanding and successful hitch.
Greetings from Northeast Ohio
It has been a month since we last had an update so here is a recap of what the CVNP Native Plants Team has been doing over the last month:
1) Scouting the sites that will be worked on within CVNP
2) Taking note of the non-native invasive plant species that we see while walking through sites
3) Going over the best way to manage the plants that need to be removed
4) Cutting and treating large invasive shrubs
5) Chipping the large shrubs and small trees that are cut down
6) Letting it be known that invasive species are not welcome at the park and that they should take notice when we arrive at a site :)
One site we have worked on quite a bit is the site of the old Richfield Colesium. If you are a basketball fan, that is the site where Michael Jordan famously made "The Shot" as it is known in Northeast Ohio against the Cleveland Cavaliers to advance in the playoffs.
It is quite amazing that when we walk through the site (now a grassland) that we have to imagine thousands of people sitting in stands watching basketball. Now it is known primarily as a great place to view native birds in the Park.
We also finished our first site this last week at the Frazee House. Even though the weather was extremely hot (90s all week) the team was able to accomplish the task of finishing the site and now we look forward to moving on to the next one!
Hope everyone is having a great time wherever they are (in the field, on breaks, etc).
All the best,
Isaac, John, Trevor, Tyler
Sloan's Pond is a popular wayside attraction along the main road running through Mammoth Cave National Park. It is encircled by a boardwalk with several small piers overlooking the pond. Unfortunately, the site's popularity has also brought quite a few invasive exotics into the area. Thus far the crew has removed Multiflora Rose from the areas surrounding the boardwalk. There are still several other invasive species in the area including Japonese Honeysuckle, Non-native Wisteria, and Chinese Yam. Thanks to our team, the Chinese Yam (Dioscorea oppositifolia) found at Sloan's pond became the first documented infestation of its type found within park boundaries. As such we will be returning to treat these populations to prevent further spread.
Rosa multiflora, Dioscorea oppositifolia, Lonicera japonica, Wisteria spp.
Hand tools were used to cut back the Multiflora rose bushes and the stems were then treated with herbicide from hand sprayers. Extra care was taken to avoid using herbicide in close proximity to the pond or wet marshy areas. In some cases the rose bushes were cut without applying herbicide because of their proximity to the water. In other cases our team was unable to reach the rose bushes without trampling very sensitive wet environments and these ares were left alone entirely. The other invasive species were left untreated but the locations of the Chinese Yam populations was documented and reported to the Park Service. We will be working with them closely to develop a control plan for these populations that minimizes environmental impacts to the aquatics communities nearby.
The first project the crew tackled at Mammoth Cave National Park was a daunting 5 acre plot of Ailanthus altissima (Tree-of-Heaven). The site had been treated in previous years but a dense population of Ailanthus had resprouted since then. As seen in the photos below, the Ailanthus had crowded out almost all other tree species from the area and as if that weren't bad enough a dense carpet of Microstegium vimineum (Nepalese Browntop) had formed on the forest floor! We cleared 3.7 acres of Ailanthus before moving on to our next project site. This plot will continue to see attention from the Park Service and volunteer groups to ensure that these species do not continue to spread.
Ailanthus altissima & Microstegium vimineum
Hand tools were used to cut the small Ailanthus trees as close to the ground as possible. Hand sprayers were then used to apply herbicide to the cut stumps to effectively kill the root and prevent further resprouting. The Microstegium was left untreated but large populations were reported to the Park Service for future control.