Grazing in the Stiltgrass: Invasive species cleanup on Bear Mountain

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The Trails for People slope on Sept. 29, before…

As I write this, gentle readers, I am hearing rather loudly from my right wrist and bicep. Basically my entire right arm from the shoulder on down, which is making it hard to type.

But I keep telling myself it’s worth it. For I, along with a group of able-bodied volunteers, just waged a heroic battle against a slope’s worth of stiltgrass, mugwort and garlic mustard at the foot of Bear Mountain.

The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference was holding another invasive plant removal and native plantings work day on Bear Mountain today, Sept. 29. The work was being held in the Trails for People exhibit, on the slope where the Appalachian Trail comes down the mountain at the Bear Mountain Inn.

You may have seen my previous entry on helping out with the initial plantings of native species. And the year before that we’d put in a day’s work getting rid of barberry, a plant that I still heartily despise.

Since that time, the slope had become overrun with stiltgrass and other invasive plants, and some of the plants we’d put in a few years earlier had died off or been trampled by people taking shortcuts down the slope. Tsk, tsk.

My mom and I both signed up for Saturday’s workshop, so the day found us showing up with work gloves and a three-pronged hoe dubbed “the persuader.”

There were about ten of us in total working on the slope, with group leaders Linda and Mike at the helm. We set to work, clearing out the stiltgrass and anything else that wasn’t supposed to be there, taking special care around the green-and-golds, columbines and ferns. We must have lugged about five hundred pounds of weeds up to the designated dump site up the hill.

The columbines were generally healthy, as were the asters.

We also did some planting – while some members of the team worked on clearing the invasives, other members dug holes and set out woody saplings still in nursery pots: gray dogwood, dewberry and so on.

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…and after.

We started work around nine-thirty in the morning. By two o’clock, we were all well and truly beat. But very pleased – we’d definitely made a change on the slope.

If you ever pass by Bear Mountain Inn, take a moment to enjoy the Trails for People slope. But please, stay on the paths – it takes a lot of work to keep the slope healthy!

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