Battling Back Invasive Species in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Replanting trees in the Park (PHOTO: Melanie Nesteruk)
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by David C. Barnett

The National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary, this year, and one of the system's major parks is located right here in our own Northeast Ohio backyard.  The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is 33,000 acres of green space, bike paths and hiking trails, just minutes away from the urban core.  But, not everything that grows in our national park is a good thing.  Volunteers are a key part of an annual program, starting-up again this week, aimed at weeding out some invasive species.

A plant called "Olive Autumn" may sound nice, and clusters of cattail-like "phragmites" may look attractive, but Lisa Meranti says looks can be decieving. Meranti recruits armys of volunteers to dig out such vegetative invaders from the Park and replace them with native species.

"Last year alone," she says,  "there were about 550 acres of invasive plants that we removed"

Meranti says these non-native plants starve the land of valuable nutrients 

"And by helping to remove those invasives, we're helping to bring that ecosystem to a more native balance state."

She adds that the invasives are being replaced by an assortment of wildflowers and small trees, nurtured from seeds that come from the park.

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