Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Environmental Volunteer Day - Jan 28, 2012

Click the graphic above for a larger image.  

On January 28 from 10AM to 3PM Pittsboro Parks is partnering with the Pittsboro Elementary School Environmental Committee to remove invasive plant species along the trail connecting Town Lake Park and the Pittsboro Elementary School Campus. The trial will be widened in the process to make it feel safer and to facilitate easier pedestrian and bicycle traffic. 

All of this comes about as a result of a grant from the Chatham County Soil & Water Conservation Department to the Pittsboro Elementary School to build a small outdoor classroom.  This workday will lay the groundwork for this future classroom and strengthen the ties between the school and the park. 

I’ve been impressed with the initiative and passion of Karinda Roebuck and Louise Hobbs. with the schools environmental committee and with the education outreach work being done by Soil and Water Conservation district, particularly the work of Amanda Sand.  These folks initiated the outdoor classroom project and have been recruiting volunteers through the school’s PTA.  Kudos to all involved.  The Pittsboro Skatepark Group has offered assistance as well, so hopefully we’ll get a good turnout. 

Town Lake Park has had some aquatic and terrestrial invasive plant clearing done fairly recently, thanks to the Karen Hall and the Robeson Creek Watershed Council.  That clearing was done as part of the ongoing wetland restoration project at the park; but much work remains to be done.  Invasive, non-native plant species such as Elaeagnus Umbellata (Autumn Olive) and Ligustrum Vulgare (Privet) are rampant throughout the park, choking out native plants and limiting biodiversity which adversely affects the habitat.  These plants also comprise much of the understory of the park--clear unobstructed views along trails help people feel intuitively safer.  One of the best quick reads on invasive plant species I’ve found is at the US National Arboretum website

For the January 28 workday, volunteers will easily uproot the plants with a great tool called an extractigator.  There are other similar tools under various trade-names but this is the one I’m most familiar with.  It’s proven to be very effective against Elaeagnus and Privet up to about 2 inches in diameter, even the multi-trunked ones which are so prevalent around here.  Recent wet weather will have softened the soil and make the job much easier.  This is the perfect time to work on this kind of project.  Other noxious plants such as poison ivy are dormant and the weather is cool enough to reward strenuous activity. 

Please bring work gloves and hand clearing tools such as clippers or pruners and/ or digging tools such as post hole diggers, shovels or mattocks.  Please come on out and help with the project!  A fun time should be had by all and you’ll be supporting both the Parks and the Pittsboro Elementary School.


Al Cooke, our County’s outstanding and knowledgeable Agricultural Extension Agent and member of the Grand Trees of Chatham Board will provide a 10-15 minute talk on invasive species with identification tips and a question and answer period.  Anyone transitioning their properties back into greater balance by removing invasives should come come for this.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tree Book by Local Artists

I just learned about this beautiful tree book at the last Grand Trees of Chatham board meeting.  Trees, by Shelly Hehenberger features work from 30 local artists (Chapel Hill - Carrboro) illustrating a poem exploring the meaning of trees.  Proceeds support the Haw River Association which is committed to protecting the water quality of the Haw River and Jordan Lake.  It’s great for readers of all ages.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Robeson Creek Greenway

The sign is up for the New Robeson Creek Greenway!  The basic corridor is open, and although there is more work to be done, folks are using it, so I suppose the greenway is  officially open.  The corridor stretches from Sanford Road and runs about 1,200 feet to a spot near the intersection of Small and Chatham Streets.  The greenway will ultimately extend a bit further to a trailhead off Small Street later this year.  

Robeson Creek Greenway Sign
The greenway project was initiated and is managed by Megan Bolejack, Community Health Promotion and Advocacy Coordinator, along with the Chatham County Health Department.  Megan acquired a Fit Community Grant with the support of her Director, Holly Coleman, as well as Pittsboro Parks and Active Chatham.  The Town and County had to sign off on the project as it traverses both Town and County property and uses Town easements.  The Town will assume maintenance of the project after it is completed. It has already assisted with signage design and purchase, landscaping (mostly clearing away of invasive, non-native species), and had the rustic benches along the corridor installed.  Interestingly, the oak slabs used for the benches were milled from trees cleared from the Mary Hayes Barber Holmes Park.

Megan's Bridge
One large Hackberry tree highlighted through selective clearing and mulch, has been designated as a Meritorious Tree by the Grand Trees of Chatham Organization. It is quite a specimen, but as large as it is there’s a larger tree still in Chatham County which was also recognized this year. 

The greenway has great potential as a linear park.  Imagine, the next time you visit, the cleared corridor being much wider, with the invasive species removed giving a greater sense of openness.  As the new Justice Center takes form on its prominent hill, the greenway feels more urban, but is still a relaxing and attractive respite from the sidewalks along the busy roads.  Bird songs and the rushing sounds of Robeson Creek seem far removed from the traffic above.  
The pilot project is great in and of itself, but hopefully it will kindle greater interest in a more ambitious greenway system for the Town.  The site has great potential as a City/ County Park just below the Justice Center, and the Greenway has the potential to extend to the County Fairgrounds and beyond to the East and certainly to Town Lake Park to the West.  

Grand Hackberry Tree
Please join the other runners, bicyclists and walkers already seen enjoying the corridor.
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