The new Invasives Removal Squad of the Irvington Green Policy Task Force (GPTF) held an event called Thank Nature Day on December 1, 2019. In collaboration with the Hastings Vine Removal Squad, the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct (Friends), and the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, two dozen volunteers came out on a chilly day to help remove and prune invasive plants and clean up litter along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail (OCA), between Main Street and Matthiessen Road.
The group got inspired by the efforts of Diane Alden, Friends Board member who has been spearheading invasive removal efforts on the OCA since 2012, who decided to celebrate National Public Lands Day with an “Invasive Species Volunteer Day” on September 28, 2019. The volunteers were removing non-native invasive species and restoring with native plants in the northern section of the OCA under the guidance of the NY-NJ Trail Conference’s Invasives Strike Force. Some of the group members also attended protecting Earth’s biodiversity event at the New York Botanical Garden, where Diane gave a thought-provoking presentation, and responded to her call for action. Diane was pleased to share vine cutters, gloves, safety goggles, literature and trail bars for nourishment stored in her garage for just such events. Haven Colgate of the Hastings Vine Removal Squad brought cutters, safety vests and other essential material.
The Thank Nature Day event was originally planned for 2 p.m. but due to an inclement weather forecast, the GPTF Invasives Removal Squad decided to move the start time to 9 a.m. The change paid off. Many volunteers did not get deterred by the earlier hours and still came out to help.
For two and a half hours, adults and children led by Haven Colgate, Leola Specht, Nikki Coddington, and Jasena Sareil focused on removing non-native invasive vines such as English Ivy, Oriental Bittersweet and Porcelain Berry, which were strangling trees and native bushes, as well as Wine berry and Tree of Heaven. Volunteers young and old also collected 5 large bags of trash.
The atmosphere was fantastic. Everyone was feeling good about being able to thank nature around Thanksgiving time by helping protect biodiversity, freeing trees of invasive vines so that they can breathe, get sunlight and keep doing the critical work of capturing carbon dioxide. Everyone got good exercise and fresh air!
Thank you, Diane, Haven and everyone who collaborated, brought equipment and provided person power to make the event successful.
The next steps of the Invasives Removal Squad will include periodic removal events, educating the community and fundraising to rehabilitate the removal areas with native plants. We hope our efforts will nourish soil, pollinators, birds and other wildlife that are essential contributors to the healthy ecosystem upon which we all depend.
Jasena Sareil & Leola Specht
For the Invasives Removal Squad of the Irvington GPTF