Early in 2017 Harrisonburg’s Stream Health Coordinator Trey Jarrels invited HMNs to help save tree seedlings along Blacks Run in Purcell Park. Planted last year by representatives of The Nature Conservancy, the trees are part of a ten year joint project begun in 2008 to improve the health of Blacks Run whose waters find their way to the Chesapeake Bay. The online Nuevas Raíces has a nice overview of the project here.
Since being planted, the Blacks Run riparian area has become overrun with Japanese hops among other invasives. The hop vines had literally pulled the seedlings down to the ground. On Friday, February 24 eight HMNs and a friend worked with Trey and two Nature Conservancy representatives to come to their rescue. Now dry and brittle the vines were fairly easily pulled off and away from the struggling seedlings. The hop vines’ seeds are set so their control will require ongoing attention. We provided the freed tree seedlings with added support from wooden stakes and landscape tape ties.
The banks of Blacks Run in Purcell Park receive frequent doses of unwelcome litter as each rain event brings run off from large swaths of surrounding impermeable surfaces. We collected some of this as we made our way along the western edge of the park. We ended the morning by pulling up empty tree tubes from previous plantings which also often turn into litter after heavy rains.
More about Japanese hops from the National Park Service here. “The vines grow rapidly during the summer, climbing up and over everything in their path and can form dense mats several feet deep, blocking light to plants underneath. Hop vines also twine around shrubs and trees causing them to break or fall over. It is invasive in riparian and floodplain habitats where it displaces native vegetation, prevents the emergence of new plants, and kills newly planted trees installed for streamside habitat restoration. Hop can quickly cover small trees hiding them from view… ” Yup! We also discovered the effectiveness of the prickles covering the vines helping them grip and causing abrasions to uncovered skin.
-Adrie Voors, Cohort II, February 2017
Purcell Park is a unique urban stream restoration that has been very beneficial to the city of Harrisonburg. With your work and environmental stewardship throughout the city we hope we can continue to create and maintain our project areas. Thanks again for your assistance … -Harrisonburg Stream Health Coordinator Trey Jarrels
More photos of our “winter” morning in the Park: