POUND RIDGE, N.Y. — A new initiative to fight the proliferation of invasive plants within the town has been formed between the Pound Ridge Conservation Board and the Henry Morgenthau Preserve of the Bedford Audubon Society.
The Invasives Project-Pound Ridge is a public/private task force formed to encourage and coordinate efforts to reduce existing infestations and to prevent new ones from occurring through scientific study, education, early detection and rapid response within Pound Ridge.
“You do not have to go far to see the damaging effects that uncontrolled invasive plants, such as oriental bittersweet, have on our area,” said Marilyn Shapiro-Lowell, chairman of the Henry Morgenthau Preserve. “Just drive along Route 172 near the Fox Lane campus: Whole woods have collapsed under the weight of oriental bittersweet vines during high winds from the hurricanes.”
Shapiro-Lowell used that example to illustrate the need for the project.
“There are a dozen invasive species – among them Japanese stilt grass, barberry, knotweed and garlic mustard, which have moved into our community and others – knocking on Pound Ridge’s door,” said Carolynn Sears, a member of the Pound Ridge Conservation Board and chairman of the new group's steering committee. “If we don’t manage them now, we are leaving ourselves open to radical changes in the beauty of our natural surroundings and the wildlife it shelters and feeds.”
Earlier this month, the Pound Ridge Conservation Board voted unanimously to support the project. Gail Jankus, Conservation Board chairman, praised the project “to help forward efforts in not only educating our citizens about the threat invasives pose to our environment, but also to help in any way we can to remove them from our town.”
Jannelle Robbins, Bedford Audubon’s executive director, echoed that thought.
“Invasive plants introduced in our yards and gardens can escape into the wild, severely damaging native habitat,” said Robbins. “We’re really excited about this project because it utilizes sound science and engages the whole community in a way that protects and improves our collective natural resources and private property as well.”
The first public forum will be held Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Pound Ridge Library. The snow date is Jan. 14. A panel of speakers will discuss targeting certain species and management strategies.
“Once the soil is disturbed or the tree canopy opened, invasive plants can move in and take hold,” said Shapiro-Lowell. “Many times, these plants have no natural enemies and can spread like wildfire. Storm damage from hurricanes Irene and Sandy are exacerbating the problem. As a community, we must deal with this growing problem before it’s too late.”