Rehoboth and state take aim at invasive plants

  Ivy, bamboo targeted at city parks

By Ryan Mavity, Cape Gazette, April 17

All right, invasive plant species, it’s roundup time.

Rehoboth Beach officials and the Delaware Forest Service are teaming up in an effort to clear invasive species from city parks and replace them with native vegetation.

Bryan Hall of the Office of State Planning Coordination said because there are no natu­ral predators, invasive plants adopt well to the local environ­ment. 'They are able to, shall we say, leap from our gardens and into our community open spaces,” he said.

The biggest problem plant, Hall said, is English ivy.

Hall jokingly suggested re­naming Central Park and Deer Park 'Ivy Park.' English ivy is smaller than most invasive plants, which tend to be tall, but it grows ex­tensively on the ground. Hall said English ivy covers the floor of Central Park, going on and on and on.

He said people looking to mimic true English gardens or looking for an easy-growing al­ternative for grass introduced English ivy in the region. It is parasitic to trees, growing straight up and covering them.

“This is our problem child,” Hall said.

Invasive plants can act as a fu­el source for fires, he said. In late March, a fire in Long Neck that destroyed 11 mobile homes started as a marsh fire, fueled by phragmites, an invasive plant, Hall said. Phragmites often out­grows native plants, taking over marshy wetlands.

Other problem plants include multiflora rose bushes, with their prickly vines, and bamboo, which, once in the ground, pre­vents anything else from grow­ing around it.

The solution for the Rehoboth parks is to introduce a manage­ment plan for the invasive species while maintaining the native plants, Hall said.

Beginning this week, the for­est service will clear debris from fallen trees. Hall said the hope is to clear the parks with a minimal amount of disturbance for residents.

“We want to do this before the rental folks come in. We want to do this before the Memorial Day holiday,” Hall said.

Once the floor of the parks is cleared, the invasive plants will be sprayed with a herbicide. Spraying will be done around Monday, May 7 by workers on foot or using small vehicles, spot-treating invasive plants.

The hope, Hall said, is once the invasive plants are out, the forest will naturally regenerate itself, paving the way for re­planting in the spring and fall of 2013.

The $10,000 project is part of the city’s inventory and assess­ment of its public trees. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing 50 percent of the funds with a 50 percent match by the city and the state.