A series of woods walks hosted by landowners is underway across south-central Massachusetts designed to share landowner passions with fellow woodland owners. Jim DiMaio hosted a walk last Thursday evening that drew over thirty people to his land in West Brookfield. Plants, particularly the non-native invasive kind that threaten to engulf our woods, were the focus of the discussion.
Time was spent looking at a few of the bigger problem species; multi-flora rose, bittersweet, burning bush, honeysuckle, buckthorn and barberry were all highlighted. As one participant said “I come at this from the gardening angle”, and it’s true that many of these plants were intentionally introduced for their horticultural properties and benefits to wildlife. Back in the 1950’s planting multi-flora rose and autumn olive were promoted by US Fish and Wildlife Service as “living hedgerows” to benefit birds and small mammals. Birds and small mammals love them, but these and other plants have gotten ahead of many native plants, resulting in significant changes to our woods.
Control of invasive plants was on the mind of everyone in attendance. Calvin Layton and representatives from Northern Tree Service were present and discussed herbicide use. Some key take-home messages include: herbicides are one control method, you can treat your own land without an applicators license but be sure to read the label, and herbicides are complex so if you have a difficult situation calling a professional is a good option.
The next woods walk in this series will be on September 11th at the farm of Jane Freeman and John Freeman, 228 Little Alum Road in Brimfield, starting at 4:30pm. These walks are sponsored by the MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership and the Southern New England Heritage Forest Partnership. SNEHF is a 3-state working group of public and private partners combining efforts to ensure the future of our woods. This project is funded by a U.S. Forest Service grant through the North East State Foresters Association. The East Quabbin Land Trust is a member of the MassConn Sustainable Forest Partnership and supports landowners in reaching their land stewardship goals.