Theresa Meadows of Bowie said she despises English ivy so much, she gave up her Saturday morning to kill it.
“We lost a couple pine trees,” Meadows said of the damage caused by the non-native, invasive plant species. “This is my way to get back at the ivy.”
Meadows was one of eight to take on the task Saturday as part of the city’s first meeting of the Weed Warriors, volunteers organized by Bowie’s Green Team and Environmental Advisory Committee to remove the plant. The Green Team, a committee charged with educating the community and developing environmental programs, decided to make cutting English ivy a volunteer opportunity for the community.
“Once it’s established, it’s horrible to get rid of. It just crowds out everything else,” Meadows said of the plant, which attaches itself to trees and can eventually bring trees down with its weight.
The warriors’ mission Saturday was carried out at a wooded area in White Marsh Park. Many of the trees at the edge of the forest were covered in ivy.
Former Bowie Mayor Gary Allen, chairman of the city’s Environmental Advisory Committee, estimated the ivy had been growing on the trees for at least a decade.
“Most of these invasive species came from the backyards of citizens,” Allen said, explaining that many people use the plant for landscaping. “It’s a mess that we created.”
Allen said a city study in March found that it would cost more than $1 million to have a company remove 328 acres of ivy from forested areas at White Marsh Park, Tanglewood Park and other city property.
Tiffany Wright, watershed manager for the city, said this was the first meeting of the Weekend Warriors, but there would be many more.
“This stuff is so hard-core,” Wright said of English ivy. “It’ll take a year or two before we really make a dent in it.”
Though there are about 11 other invasive species in White Marsh Park, Wright said the group will focus on English ivy for now, because removing too many kinds of plants at once could cause erosion.
Jamie Vivra, leader of Saturday’s Weed Warriors and a member of the Green Team, said she hopes to expand the program to 50 volunteers who can enjoy getting to know other members of the community while helping native plants.
“This is pleasure with a purpose,” she said.
The next Weed Warriors volunteer opportunities are Aug. 10 and Sept. 15. Those interested should call Wright at 301-809-3043.
Meadows said she will remember the trees she helped whenever she walks by the stretch of forest where she worked Saturday.
“My tree,” she said, wrapping her arms around a white pine.