Residents of Takoma Park came together yesterday for a day of community service to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., picking up trash and pulling out weeds at Dorothy’s Woods.
Volunteers were prepared with gloves and tools for ripping up the roots of invasive plant species at the recently ordained strip of forest along Woodland Ave where it meets with Circle Ave.
Botanist Gorky Villa Muñoz, as well as members of Friends of Sligo Creek, were on hand to help volunteers identify which plants could stay and which had to go, the latter group including familiar Takoma flora like English Ivy, Wintercreeper, Porcelainberry, Bush Honeysuckle and Multiflora Rose.
“[Multiflora Rose] is not like the rose you have in your garden,” explained volunteer Luc Phinney. “People go on a walk in the woods, scratch their face on that stuff- it’s not your grandmother’s tea rose.”
The English Ivy was perhaps one of the easiest species to spot, and one of the most aggressive ones as well, according to Villa Muñoz.
“When there’s change in the natural order, something bad can happen,” Villa Muñoz said, adding that there is a very delicate balance between flora and fauna that is easily disrupted by invasive species. “[Invasive vines] can strangle native trees. Aggressive plants take over. If one species of plant helps an insect population survive and that plant disappears, the population of insects can disappear, too.”
An earlier cleaning of Dorothy’s Woods during the fall season made the forest a more enticing place for both adults seeking a tranquil walk in the woods and neighborhood children, who like to play games and build forts out of sticks in the area.
Some of them were on hand to help with the cleaning.
“We’re trying to dig out the roots so it can’t grow back,” said Will, 12, who was one of eight children helping with the clean-up. “We probably can’t get all of them, but the more we take out, the less chance it’ll have to grow back. It would take over the forest. It would kill almost every tree.”
A lawn mower blade, a piece of gutter, a hose, telephone wires, a mattress and a car door were some among the more interesting artifacts uncovered in the woods.
The trash was gathered into a pile for later pick-up by Takoma Public Works, to the slight disappointment of some of the children.
“The lawn mower blade was pretty cool,” Will said wistfully.
A similar event was held at the same time at Takoma-Piney Branch Park (Wilhelm Field).