Article and photos by Susan Austin Roth
ARMN members Susan Austin Roth and Jim Hurley are actively involved with the Blue Ridge PRISM as area stewards and as members of the Education and Outreach Working Group.
Whenever you hike in a local park or state wildlife preserve or drive along Virginia’s scenic byways, are you appalled by the obvious destruction done by invasive plants? Everywhere one goes these days, it seems the landscape is overrun with invasive vines shrouding and strangling trees and invasive shrubs and grasses obliterating the native plants we should be seeing. Unfortunately, the horror scene you observe goes unnoticed by most of the public, who think green is good and the unnatural is the way it should be and always has been.
The tangled vines of oriental bittersweet can strange forest trees and topple them with their weight.
If you are a keen devotee of Virginia’s forests, fields, and working farms, perhaps you already volunteer in the effort to combat nonnative invasive plants by leading hand-to-hand combat efforts in a local park. But here’s another way you can help the effort on a much larger scale. A new organization dedicated to fighting nonnative invasive plants, the Blue Ridge PRISM (Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management) needs volunteer help from Master Naturalists with knowledge about invasive plants and an interest in outreach to consult with landowners. If you volunteer, you would identify invasive plants on the landowners’ properties, distribute literature, discuss effective control measures, and assist landowners in applying for PRISM grants for invasives control. The Blue Ride PRISM is also looking for volunteers to join a task force in scouting for wavyleaf grass in areas near known infestations. Training will be provided. If you do not reside in an area served by the Blue Ridge PRISM, you might consider organizing interested people to establish a similar organization in another region of the commonwealth.
The Blue Ridge PRISM is a young—but fast-maturing—nonprofit organization dedicated to raising community awareness and leading control efforts to combat invasive plants in 10 counties located on both sides of the Shenandoah National Park. It is the first CWMA (Cooperative Weed Management Area) headquartered in Virginia. Nationally, there are more than 100 such organizations, most of them in the West. The ten counties included in the Blue Ridge PRISM’s geographical range are: Albemarle, Augusta, Clarke, Greene, Madison, Nelson, Page, Rappahannock, Rockingham and Warren.