Small but Mighty: Volunteers Tackle Invasive Plants

Emilie Wetzel
Sep 7, 2017

By TTF’s Upstream Conservation Leader and Virginia Cain, Southeast Regional PA DEP

Last month, PA DEP employees from the Southeast Regional Office teamed up with us to battle a common enemy: the invasive Porcelain Berry.

On August 8th, the volunteers snipped, clipped, pulled, cut and removed as much of the vine as they could from TTF Watershed Partnership’s riparian buffer restoration project at Abington Junior High School in Montgomery County. The 24,000 square foot project was initiated in the fall of 2012 by TTF Watershed Partnership with funding from TreeVitalize and the Carbon Fund and in partnership with Abington School District and the Abington Environmental Advisory Council

As with most restoration projects, the threat of invasive plants crowding out or suffocating native plants can greatly impact the overall success of a riparian buffer. To put it plainly, a riparian buffer is a strip of vegetated land near a stream, creek or river, that helps protect the water quality. At Abington Junior High, the buffer was planted with native trees, shrubs and wildflowers to filter water prior to it entering East Baeder Creek, a headwaters tributary of Tookany Creek.  

Michelle Mancuso, Sanitarian Trainee in DEP’s Southeast Regional Safe Drinking Water program, was one of the first to volunteer for the clean-up effort. “It’s an incredible opportunity for us to get our hands dirty and physically act out the Agency’s mission. We are the Department of Environmental Protection and we came here to defend this waterway from an intruder.”

Over the course of four hours, the small but mighty group of volunteers freed numerous trees, bushes, and native plants from the grasp of the Porcelain Berry. To learn more about how to get involved with protecting creekside plantings and other hands-on projects, contact TTF’s Upstream Conservation Leader, or call 215.744.1853.

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