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- The Weed Warrior Volunteer Program
The Weed Warrior Volunteer Program
Two Ways to Get Involved
Become a Certified Weed Warrior Volunteer
Weed Warrior Certifications will be scheduled and posted on the calendar. If you would like to be notified when Weed Warrior trainings commence, please email us at Acollier@mountairymd.gov. Until then, please join us at a public Group Weed Warrior Workday. See below for more information.
We know it’s tempting, but it’s against Mount Airy Parks rules and regulations to remove plant material from a park unless authorized. Once you’re a trained Weed Warrior Volunteer, you’ll be authorized to control non-native, invasive plants on Town Parkland without supervision.
Join a Group Weed Warrior Workday
Want to help without becoming a Certified Weed Warrior? We offer Group Weed Warrior Workdays throughout the year at parks across the county — no advanced training required. These NNI management one-day events are led by specially-trained volunteer Weed Warrior Supervisors and/or Parks staff and they’re a great way to start learning how to identify and remove NNIs!
Interested in joining a Group Weed Warrior Workday?
Thu Jun. 15
Tue Jun. 20
Sat Jun. 24
Join Weed Warrior Supervisor Ashley Collier and the Windy Ridge Park Strike Force for a non-native, invasive plant removal workday as we continue our efforts to reclaim native wildlife habitat in Windy Ridge Park.
This group will meet up in the parking lot for East-West Park of Prospect Road.
Please wear long pants that cover your ankles, long sleeves, sturdy, closed-toed shoes, and possibly rain gear if it looks drizzly. Please bring Weed Wrenches, hand saws, gloves, pruners, and loppers if you have them. Gloves and tools are available to borrow if you don’t have your own. No power tools or machetes allowed. Please also bring water, snacks, and bug spray.
This area is home to great blue herons, kingfishers, Eastern towhees, bluebirds, red-spotted purples, spicebush swallowtails, luna moths, Eastern box turtles, crayfish, and many other spectacular wildlife species. These beautiful creatures need native plants, shrubs, and trees to complete their life cycles, but bush honeysuckle, privet, multiflora rose, oriental bittersweet, and other invasive woody species are growing where natives should be thriving. The invasive plants are disrupting the web of life, and the native flora needs rescuing!
This workday is pre-approved for SSL hours. Volunteers under 16 are not permitted to use tools, so if you are under 16, please email the Weed Warrior supervisor ahead of time to see whether they will have meaningful work for you do to. Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
To sign-up for dates, please contact Ashley at Acollier@mountairymd.gov
What is a Non-native, Invasive Plant?
Most natural communities support a great variety of native plants and animals. Such biodiversity is threatened when a few plant species take over and dominate the herbaceous, shrub, or canopy layers of a forest.
Non-native, invasive plant species (NNIs) can alter the complex webs of plant-animal associations that have evolved over thousands of years to such a degree that plants and animals once familiar to us are eliminated. In meadows, for example, NNI monocultures can threaten butterfly populations because they can no longer find the native host plants they depend on for survival. In forests, NNI vines can strangle and smother trees. NNI shrubs can displace and shade out native plants that provide birds and other wildlife with food and shelter. Recent research has shown that NNIs can even alter soil chemistry and disrupt the growth of the mycorrhizal fungi on which healthy forests depend. In short, NNIs are causing significant changes in the composition, structure, and ecosystem function of our natural areas.
A typical NNI plant has some or all of the following characteristics:
- Grows fast and matures early.
- Spreads quickly over large areas.
- Thrives in many habitats.
- Reproduces profusely by seed and/or vegetative structures.
- Survives and produces seeds under adverse environmental conditions.
- Has few known diseases or pests.
By their very nature, NNIs are difficult to control. Often it requires a mix of mechanical, chemical, and hand removal efforts to be successful. The key is to find NNI populations when they are small and remove them before they become established.