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Athens Weed Warriors Wage Battle for Memorial Park

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

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!

Nancy Zechella September 30, 2011 at 08:43 PM
The 'before and after' photos are incredible.
Rebecca McCarthy (Editor) September 30, 2011 at 11:27 PM
Nancy, to see the actual places in the flesh is mind blowing. These volunteers are doing a massive community service. Massive.
Nancy Zechella September 30, 2011 at 11:34 PM
That's wht so great about Athens...the people with community spirit. I wish I were able to help them, but one day of digging up plants for Garden Bones Plant and Seed Swap put me on a cane for two days.
Angela Meltzer October 01, 2011 at 01:17 PM
WOW! These before and after photos are truly amazing. Thanks to Sue, Linda and the army of volunteers.
Judy Day October 01, 2011 at 03:46 PM
That is great! Do they meet every Saturday morning?
Rebecca McCarthy (Editor) October 02, 2011 at 03:03 AM
Judy, according to their Facebook page: Every first and third Saturday of each month (October - April), from 9:30 am to 12:30, we will be holding community workdays at the park. I know they would love another volunteer!
Toni Senory October 02, 2011 at 06:31 PM
This is fantastic! I'd be happy to volunteer!
Ed Wilde October 03, 2011 at 04:58 PM
You can go to our Facebook page for lots more information: "Memorial Park/Birchmore Trail Weed Warriors". There are photos from previous work days, links to information on native plants, suggestions for reading, etc. If you want to be on our list serve, email us: weedwarriors09@gmail.com

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