Invasive Vines, January 19, 2006

For Immediate Release
January 19, 2006
Contact: Ann Novak
914-375-2151

Saw Mill River Coalition and the New York State Department of Transportation Continue their Battle with Invasive Vines

The Saw Mill River Coalition and the New York State Department of Transportation, working in conjunction with the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation, have created a pilot program to remove the invasive vines that are strangling trees and shrubbery along the perimeters of the Saw Mill River Parkway. The Free-A-Tree project, which got off to a successful start in November, will continue throughout the winter. The winter months are prime vine cutting time! Dozens of volunteers are needed to attack the problem!

The ultimate goal of the “Free-A-Tree” project is to inspire local organizations, municipalities and businesses to adopt and maintain their own segments along the Saw Mill River Parkway. On February 11 from 9 am – 12 pm volunteers will assemble at the Farragut Avenue parking lot. On March 11, from 9 am – 12 pm, the vine removal will occur from Marble Avenue to Bedford Road in Mount Pleasant. Individuals and environmental, civic and municipal organizations are urged to dedicate an hour or two of time to help with this important mission.

A ubiquitous problem throughout the Northeast, fast-growing, tenacious vines are among the worst of the foreign plants that threaten to overwhelm local habitats. Oriental bittersweet and porcelain berry, the two most common invaders to be seen along the area’s local roads, are considered “invasives,” a term used for plants that crowd out native plants and slowly strangle trees in their upward spiral, eventually shrouding tree canopies from the sun and creating a blanket over under-story plants and shrubs. This significantly diminishes the value of wildlife habitat, in terms of food sources and nesting areas, and has a negative impact upon the number of species that use the river corridor, which parallels the parkway corridor for many miles. The Saw Mill River Coalition* and the DOT have instituted this vine removal pilot project to rescue native vegetation, restore the stream buffer, and preserve the area’s biodiversity. The eventual goal: revitalizing the native habitats along the Saw Mill Parkway and River.

To register as a volunteer, send your name and phone number to free-a-tree@hotmail.com or call 914-375-2151. Volunteers must wear sturdy shoes (no sneakers) and leather gloves (if possible). Tool supplies are limited so volunteers are urged to bring their own clippers/loppers. Student volunteers must be at least 16 years of age and have a parental permission note.

The Saw Mill River Coalition, a program of Groundwork Yonkers, is an alliance of municipalities, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and others dedicated to revitalizing and protecting the Saw Mill River. For information, call 914-375-2151 or email annmarie@groundworkyonkers.org.

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