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Cleaning Up

Helping get rid of invasive plants

By Indrya Johnson-Coulombe | null null , null
An example of English or common ivy covering a tree trunk. (Photo: Alan and Linda Detrick / Photo Researchers, Inc)
An example of English or common ivy covering a tree trunk. (Photo: Alan and Linda Detrick / Photo Researchers, Inc)

Whenever my grandma comes to Eugene, Oregon, she always says, “Look at all the plants and how green it is here.”

But not all plants are great for every environment. Some plants are growing too fast and are doing harm. So to help clean up the environment, people are volunteering to pull these plants.

On Saturday, April 21, there was a project to remove the Scotch broom and English ivy (two types of plants) at Alton Baker Park in Oregon. The project was run by AmeriCorps ASPIRE (Access to Student Assistance Programs In Reach of Everyone). ASPIRE's mission is to help students receive an education beyond high school. They also help high schools build a lasting community of volunteer mentors.

There were three groups from ASPIRE: college students, high school students and Eugene City Parks. Some of the volunteers came from around Eugene and drove to the park to help pull out the plants.

After they pulled out the plants, volunteers drove them to a recycling place that turns them to mulch. Mulch is material spread on soil to hold in moisture and prevent erosion (the gradual wearing of soil and rock).

So how does a good plant become a bad one? Well, when somebody buys seeds at the store, they either drop them or plant them. Birds can then eat the seeds and scatter them. Sometimes these plants (like weeds or ivy) can grow incredibly fast. If you don’t start pulling them out, they begin to spread and kill the plants around them in order to grow.

The Scotch broom and English ivy are native to Europe, and they were introduced to the United States in the 1800s. When the Scotch broom grows in an area where it’s not native, it destroys the native plants by crowding them out. Scotch broom is a nice bush with a yellow flower and people use it for their yards and to make wreaths.

English ivy is an ornamental ground cover. One reason people plant it here is for decoration. English ivy looks a lot like regular ivy. The only difference is that it is not native and it strangles the trees.


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