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HILLSVILLE — Volunteers sent several truckloads of alien invaders packing on May 7.
The naturalists worked to repel an invasion of alien plants from the Beaver Dam Trail last Saturday, in an effort to help native plants thrive.
Five volunteers responded to the local effort of Beagle Ridge and New River Master Naturalist chapters that was a part of Virginia Master Naturalists Invasive Plant Removal Day.
The goal involved removing alien plants from the state’s natural areas. The non-native plants can take over, causing ecological damage.
Volunteers in Hillsville focused on fighting tree of heaven, Japanese honeysuckle, oriental bittersweet, multiflora rose and garlic mustard.
In more than three hours — from the parking lot and a mile of the trail — volunteers pulled out eight bags worth of garlic mustard and a dump truck load of honeysuckle and tree of heaven, according to local organizer Brian Kreowski, from the New River Valley chapter.
They also took out two bags of trash, including many undelivered phone directories dumped in the trail’s parking lot.
You've got to take hold of the invaders and pull them out by the root — and then some. Kreowski noted that the invasives by the trail and by the stream have gotten well established and fighting them will take a significant amount of work.
He'd like people to understand how much these invaders "have taken over the landscape" and outcompeted the more beneficial natives.
Bringing back natives, like the willow and alder that volunteers uncovered from the tangle, could cool the stream and help bring back the fish there, Kreowski noted. "We just began a process that's going to take a long time to compete... I hope to see it in my lifetime."