15 Sep 2014
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Athens Weed Warriors Wage Battle for Memorial Park

All you non-native invasive plants, listen up: your days are numbered.

Athens Weed Warriors Wage Battle for Memorial Park Athens Weed Warriors Wage Battle for Memorial Park Athens Weed Warriors Wage Battle for Memorial Park

Come join the Weed Warriors on Saturday as they battle the nasty, non-native invasive plants that have overpowered native plants in , one of Athens’ loveliest in-town destinations.

They'll be hard at work from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Whether you have an hour or three hours, the Warriors will be happy to orient you to the work at hand, equip you with loppers and other tools and send you into the woods around the zoo and the Fred Birchmore Trail.

The group of volunteers began in the fall of 2009, led by Linda Chaffin, a conservation botanist who works at the . She lives near the park and walks there often, and she was distressed at seeing it overgrown with bush honeysuckle, thorny vines, privet and Chinese wisteria.

So, she talked to Sue Wilde, whom she had seen pulling weeds in the garden, and convinced Sue to help her. Dorothy O’Neill joined the group, and then Gary Crider, who is involved in the local Audubon Society.

Each of these people brought others. Word spread, and civic and school groups began volunteering. The Weed Warriors contacted Leslie Boby, the volunteer coordinator of the ACC Leisure Services Department. She helped recruit even more volunteers.

The first year, the group cleared three and a half acres, an amount which amazed Sue Wilde, she said. They did the same amount the second year.

"A healthy forest is more likely to repel invasive by exotics," said Chaffin. "That's what we're hoping to create."

For its good work, the Weed Warriors have received grants from ORAS (Oconee Rivers Audubon Society), with which they've bought native plants and bird nesting boxes. UGA professor Alan Armitage arranged for North Creek Nurseries in Pennsylvania.to donate native wildflowers and grasses.The Georgia Recreation and Parks Association awared the Warriors an award from their work.

So, come join these wonderful Warriors tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. They’ll meet at the upper parking lot in Memorial Park, near the pink building. Signs will direct you where you need to go.  Be sure to wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and to bring water.

And get those plants!

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