Eyes of Paint Branch

Conservation, Education, and Action for the Paint Branch and Its Watershed

EOPB Action Alerts

To Everyone Concerned About Parks


For at least five years many of us have watched vines and other invasive plants proliferate in the parks. There was little to do about it but uproot some occasionally as a Weed Warrior, and hope they didn't get worse. But they have. In my neighborhood we organized volunteer work groups, but in time some vines grew back, making our efforts nearly worthless. We did, however, save some large trees for another year or two, as we hoped help would come along.

Now, help may be possible. The Parks Department in M-NCPPC is ready to establish an Invasive Plants Program. If it gets funded, from two to four personnel, some part-time, will be able to work to remove invasives. They would try especially to prevent new invasives from taking over fairly pristine areas. They could also direct help to other parks where the problem is beyond volunteer labor. In parts of Sligo Creek Park, for instance, invasive plants cover 95% of the ground. Last year we discovered the delicate native showy orchid and trillium, both within two feet of encroaching invasive plants. All our parks need help to retain what biodiversity we have.

We need to let Council Members know there are people out there who support rescuing our parks from invasive plants. They must receive e-mails or letters soon. Below is a sample message that you might change slightly and send. Following that are facts about invasives if you write a longer letter, or to share with your members.

Deadline: Wed. Dec. 18 (possibly up to Dec. 20) to influence both the Planning Board and the County Council; Jan. 15 (or up to the time of voting) to influence the County Council.

To the President and Members of the County Council
Subject: Help for Invasive Plants

Recently I have become aware of a possible funded Invasive Plants Program in the Parks. I'd like you to know that I fully support this.

Street Address (a must)
Your e-mail address

Send to: county.council@co.mo.md.us and with a copy to BarbaraPrellar@mncppc-mc.org Ms. Prellar is the secretary who receives e-mail for Derick Berlage, Chairman of the Planning Board. The Planning Board needs to hear that people want a funded Invasives Program included in the M-NCPPC budget when it is submitted at year's end.

If you write a post office letter, which can carry more weight, address the letter to:
Michael Subin, President
County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850
Dear Mr. Subin and Members of the County Council:

Send a copy to Derick Berlage, Chairman
Montgomery County Planning Board
8787 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Information on Invasive Plants

Trees are the backbone of our parks. Invasive vines drape over the leaves, which block out sunlight and kill the tree.

Where vines form a dense ground cover, as with for example porcelain berry or English ivy, new tree seedlings are unlikely to get started. In some areas there is an estimated generational tree gap of five to seven years.

Three of the most destructive vines are porcelain berry, Oriental bittersweet, and Japanese honeysuckle.

M-NCPPC could never hire enough personnel to remove all vines without volunteer help, but it needs a funded program to stop new species from becoming established, and to help direct volunteer groups.

The County has 30,000 acres of parkland, much of it still in good shape. However in Sligo Creek park, for instance, fifteen or so invasive plants are replacing over 300 plants listed in 1970. Other parks should not be allowed to reach this state.

To users of the parks - runners, bikers, baby carriage pushers, dog walkers, and strollers, dead trees are unsightly. A new generation of users may find many more opened sunny spots along the shaded lengths of our streams.

Despite the need to submit an overall pared budget this year, the Park is considering including an invasives request in the budget. Because of momentum that exists now, with enough voices we have a reasonable chance for passage, particularly if the Council is persuaded that residents see a need.

A tree killed by vines in Sligo at Colesville Road
A tree killed by vines in Sligo at Colesville Road