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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.