On Friday, Tom, Will, Sarah, Rose and Melissa went to an invasive plants workshop at Emerald Lake State Park. Colleen Balch, a great educator that works with the VT Department of Forests, Parks, and Rec (and who also use to teach at Merck years ago), led the workshop. The four hour workshop was both hands-on and lecture-based.
Colleen and her co-workers, Heather and Elizabeth, met us under the pavilion with hot coffee ready to be consumed; a great treat since Friday was a little damp and rainy. Our group got organized for the day: picked out appropriate sized gloves, and each person was put in charge of a tool for the day. After Colleen signed out everyone’s borrowed equipment, we gathered back under pavilion for an introduction.
With one volunteer being an exception, all of the participants in the workshop were from Merck, and Colleen catered the information to items that would be particular to our group. Her discussion honed in on the invasive plants that she has seen at MFFC: garlic mustard, honeysuckle, buckthorn, and barberry.
While our staff is knowledgable about invasive plant species (invasives are plants that are non-native to an area and harmful to the ecosystem of that area), it was great to learn more about the major plants that are threats to the region. We spent time pulling garlic mustard, cutting out japanese barberry and muliflora rose, and watched a way to remove common buckthorn–all the techniques can be applied where there are invasives here at Merck Forest.
The workshop was informative and fun. We each had a great time. VT Department of Forests, Parks, and Rec did a great job with this program, which is available to all interested parties. Anyone that is interested in learning about invasive vegetation, and who want to get out and spend part of a day in a Vermont State Park, should contact: Colleen Balch at Colleen.Balch@state.vt.us.