Volunteer to Save Richmond’s Trees

February 17, 2021 · 2 minute read
Volunteer to Save Richmond’s Trees

Valentine’s Day has come and gone but it’s not too late to show Richmond’s trees some love.

Since 2017, the James River Park System Invasive Plant Task Force has hosted a week of special events to observe National Invasive Species Awareness Week at the end of February. This year is, of course, different. No guided group walks, no information booth ideally situated near RVA Goats, and no crowded party to wrap up the week.

Scenes from National Invasive Species Week in years past.

NISAW 2021 is instead an opportunity to put the park system’s (and all of Richmond’s) trees in the spotlight, offering ample opportunities to save the life of a park tree while learning how to do the same for trees in your own neighborhood. Task Force members will be leading volunteer events—with limited numbers of participants— at Belle Isle, Pony Pasture, Chapel Island, Reedy Creek, Buttermilk Trail, and Huguenot Flatwater. Find out more on the JRPS Invasive Plant Task Force website where you also can access the volunteer calendar for details and contact information.   

Last weekend’s ice storm on top of Friday’s snow demonstrated the increased fall risk to when weakened and weighted by thick invasive vines and their drapery of foliage. Trees crashing down under the weight of ice and snow don’t just knock out electricity; they block roads and crush roofs and cars—and they can kill.  Invasive plant control is essential tree care.

Ivy-covered trees under snow on Riverside Drive near Pony Pasture in the winter of 2017

A couple of months ago I wrote here about how invasive vines—primarily English ivy and wintercreeper—add to the stressors already compromising the health and survival of trees, and last month I offered step-by-step guidance to “freeing trees”.  This month my JRPS Invasive Plant Task Force colleagues and I welcome the chance to enlist more tree heroes in the fight to save Richmond’s tree canopy.  Please join us at one of our JRPS project areas for a hands-on “Free-A-Tree” experience throughout the rest of February. Then bring those skills back to your neighborhood. We can save Richmond’s urban canopy, one tree at a time.

A tree in Pony Pasture freed from invasive vines.

Laura Greenleaf is a Certified Virginia Master Naturalist and a founding steering committee member of the James River Park System Invasive Plant Task Force. She lives near the Pony Pasture section of the park system.