Volunteers go after invasive plants

Woodcock Nature Center and the Norwalk River Watershed Association (NRWA) will host an invasive plant removal and riverbank restoration event at Merwin Meadows, 52 Lovers Lane, on Saturday, Oct. 8.

Community members are invited to join Woodcock, NRWA and Builders Beyond Borders volunteers in cutting back invasive plants and planting native replacements along the banks of the Norwalk River in the park, from 9:30 to 12:30.

The restoration project will begin with an overview of how to identify invasive plant species in the area and why native plants are important to the health of the watershed.

NRWA President Louise Washer said volunteers will focus on removing Euonymus alatus, a flowering plant species that’s also known as winged spindle, winged euonymus or burning bush.

“For the last three years in October, we have gone with Builders Beyond Borders high school volunteers and others who join in [to] cut back the euonymus,” said Washer.

“We are making progress along the river walk, as native plants have begun to establish there. For example, jewelweed has been allowed to prosper there since our work began.

Merwin Meadows also has “plenty of bittersweet to remove — that’s an aggressive invasive vine that chokes trees,” said NRWA board member Elizabeth Craig. “It has attractive orange berries in the fall.”

There is also has barberry, “which is a stand-out too with its bright red berries,” said Craig, and people should try to remove it from their properties because it “provides the perfect habitat for ticks.

“Once the invasives are removed, there will be more space, water and light for the existing natives to thrive,” Craig said.

“It is exciting to see our local beauties looking vigorous, growing well the next spring following an invasive abatement.”

Volunteers are encouraged to wear long pants and sturdy shoes and bring clippers and gloves, though some will be available. Volunteers will meet in the parking lot at the bottom of Lover’s Lane.

For more information, email info@norwalkriver.org or call 877-NRWA-INFO.

Library talk

Woodcock and NRWA will also sponsor an invasive species talk at Wilton Library called Gardeners, Keepers of Our Natural Heritage on Tuesday, Oct. 18, from 7 to 8:30.

Master gardener and Pound Ridge Conservation Board member Carolynn Sears will lead a discussion on the threat of invasive plant species and what people can do in their own backyards to combat the problem.

Sears is the co-founder of the Invasives Project, a public/private initiative of the Henry Morgenthau Preserve Committee, Bedford Audubon Society and Pound Ridge Conservation Board that strives to protect nature, preserve wildlife habitat, encourage the use of native plant species, and limit the spread of invasive species.

The Gardeners, Keepers of Our Natural Heritage talk is free. To register, visit www.wiltonlibrary.org.

Woodcock is a non-profit nature center at 56 Deer Run Road. To learn more, visit woodcocknaturecenter.org.

The NRWA is a not-for-profit membership organization focused on improving the water quality and fish and wildlife habitats of the 40,000-acre Norwalk River watershed, which includes the towns of Norwalk, Wilton, New Canaan, Weston, Redding and Ridgefield, Conn., and Lewisboro, N.Y. To learn more, visit norwalkriver.org.