Strong Coalition Begins Healing at the West Loveland Nature Preserve
by Lauren Enda
On Saturday, September 10th, three paid contractors and 13 volunteers spent a total of 53 hours working and sweating in the West Loveland Nature Preserve. Our goal was to remove as many invasive plants in the Preserve as possible, allowing the healing of this delicate ecosystem to begin.
Invasive plants prevent native plants and trees from growing, but they also undermine the health and vitality of tall, mature trees. As a result of the reduction of healthy native plants, the insect and bird populations are suffering. Unfortunately, in the West Loveland Nature Preserve (WLNP), as in many woodlands in southwest Ohio, invasive plants have started to, or already do, outnumber native ones. The contractor/volunteer team working at the WLNP on the 10th was trying to reverse that ratio.
Working together, the team identified the invasive plants, cut them down, applied herbicide to the remaining stalks, and finally stacked them for removal by Loveland’s Public Works. At the end of the workday, we estimated that we had cut down between 900 and 1000 invasives. This seems like a big number, but it represents a very small drop in a very large bucket of invasive plants. There are tens of thousands of invasives left to cut. The vast majority of what we downed was bush honeysuckle, some many decades old and incredibly large. We also cut callery pear, multiflora rose, and privet among others. In the massive tangle of honeysuckle, we uncovered a discarded tire, a mirror, alcohol bottles, and a few dead trees being held up by the honeysuckle that had grown around them.
Prior to the event, experts from several organizations in the field of invasive removal were contacted to ensure that best practices were used. Unfortunately, even with expert guidance, professional technicians, and seasoned volunteers, invasive removal is not a “one and done” task. Continued monitoring of an area to cut invasives that are regrowing will be necessary to ensure the continued healing of the woodland.
Many individuals helped ensure the success of the day. Many thanks to Loveland’s Public Works Department for logistics support and for taking care of the cut woody debris; to Loveland’s Marketing Team for their help in getting the word out about the event; and to the City Manager for trusting the team to allow us to do the work.
Finally, a huge shout-out goes to the twelve volunteers, who spent a beautiful Saturday protecting the WLNP. It was hard, hard work, but we also laughed, motivated each other, and shared our passion for restoring our woodland ecosystems. For those few hours, we were a bonded community with a shared vision. As that community grows, so too will the health of Loveland’s natural spaces.
Please visit the West Loveland Nature Preserve and observe the transformation. The area we worked is at the West Loveland Avenue entrance, near the intersection with Glen Lake Road. We worked both sides of the trail for approximately 50 yards – though we got further on the side along the creek. You can see the “Hidden” creek from the path now. You can see the forest floor and see the trunks of the trees. Dappled sunshine now reaches the forest floor, something that has not happened in years. Hopefully, this event will be the beginning of the long healing process that the natural spaces in Loveland desperately need.