If you are looking for an exciting weekend activity or an opportunity to network, volunteering in the D.C. area is a great way to achieve that. During my internship, I participated in a habitat restoration effort at Kingman Island and Dawson Terrance Park hosted by the D.C. Master Naturalist Program and the Society of Conversation Biology. During these events, we removed invasive vegetation to promote and protect native wildlife.
Removing invasive species is important for environmental restoration because they can degrade native habitats and compete with the wildlife for food, water, shelter, and space. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) invasive species cause “more than 100 billion dollars in damage each year to the U.S. economy. Costly effects include crop decimation, clogging of water facilities and waterways, wildlife and human disease transmission, threats to fisheries, increased fire vulnerability, and adverse effects for ranchers and farmers” (USGS, 2022).
In order to mitigate these consequences, we worked to remove the following species:
Bush honeysuckle is native to Eurasia but is widely planted as an ornamental shrub in the United States. It can easily grow out of control and rapidly spread. If exposed to wild areas, it can inhibit the growth of native trees, shrubs, and ground layer species. It does so by blocking out sunlight, secreting toxic exudates, and depleting the soil of moisture and nutrients. In addition to that, Bush honeysuckle has negative consequences on native birds because the berries have a net-zero nutritional content. When birds consume the berries, they gain no nutrition benefit but are sated. This can lead to decreased chick survival and starvation.
Running bamboo is used ornamentally and is native to Asia. It is a highly aggressive and fast-growing plant species. Bamboo can suffocate native vegetation, decrease tree density, damage property and deplete soil nutrients. It is incredibly challenging to control and get rid of once roots have been established.
English ivy is another common ornamental plant and is native to Eurasia. It is a climbing vine that covers and kills trees, cokes ground plants, and creates “ivy deserts” where nothing else can thrive. It promotes mosquito populations by providing an environment where puddles and wet soils can collect. English ivy can also carry and spread Bacterial Leaf Scorch, a plant pathogen detrimental to oaks, elms, and maples.
After these species have been fully removed at each location, native wildflowers, ground cover, and shrubs will take their place in the spring. I found this educational opportunity as a refreshing break from work and a great way to network with wildlife and environmental professionals.
If you are also looking for events that pertain to your field of interest or would like to network over an activity, an easy way to find events is to google search “events near me” or visit the Eventbrite website at: https://www.eventbrite.com/d/dc–washington/events/.
The Fertilizer Institute
spring 2022 | Washington, D.C.