Programs highlight invasive species at Lake Crabtree park

mquillin@newsobserver.comFebruary 26, 2013 

— Lake Crabtree County Park will commemorate National Invasive Species Awareness Week with a couple of programs highlighting some of the park’s unwelcome vegetative and voracious visitors.

First is “Aliens in Your Garden,” from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Park staff will identify nonnative invasive plants that have taken up residence in the park and what Lake Crabtree is doing to control them. Part of the effort involves encouraging people who live in the area not to plant nonnative trees and shrubs that can spread when seeds are carried on the wind or by birds.

“We try to convince people there are better native alternatives,” said Colleen Bockhahn, assistant park manager. Locally, she said, people continue to plant species such as English ivy and Bradford pears that spread easily and displace native plants.

The program begins with a visit to the wildlife habitat garden at the park and then moves on to the water-wise garden.

Invasive species confirmed in the park so far are all land-dwellers, Bockhahn said. While hydrilla, a troublesome invader, has found its way into some local lakes; it has not been seen in Lake Crabtree.

For the past 18 months or so, Bockhahn said, the park has been working to eradicate Japanese stiltgrass, or microstegium vimineum, by spraying herbicide where that’s feasible, and using volunteers to pull up the plants by hand where chemicals can’t be applied. But seeds of the grass can be viable for up to five years, so workers have to keep pulling plants out of the same area over and over until they’re gone.

“That’s when it gets frustrating, “ Bockhahn said.

Privet and kudzu also have been found in the park. Both are nonnative species.

Bockhahn will lead a program from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday called “Catastrophic Critters,” about animals that invade and throw an environment out of balance. Nonnative species in the park include European starlings, nutria, outdoor and feral cats, and some insects.

Both programs are free and open to all ages. To register, call 919-460-2723. For more information, go to www.wakegov.com/parks/lakecrabtree. For more on National Invasive Species Awareness Week, go to www.nisaw.org.

Lake Crabtree County Park is at 1400 Aviation Parkway in Morrisville, just off Interstate 40.

Quillin: 919-829-8989

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