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Invasive Plant Removal

Earlier this fall, Morgan Community Mile Director Ellis Brown, along with several Morgan students and community members, participated in an invasive plant removal in the stream valleys of the Chinquapin Run and Herring Run. Much of the stream valleys is overrun with English ivy, an invasive plant that grows both on the ground and on trees, and kills trees by blocking light from reaching their leaves. The added weight of the vines makes the trees more likely to fall, creating a hazard. Invasive plant removal is a key factor in watershed restoration, as it allows the native plants to thrive.

Fallen trees weakened by English ivy.
Fallen trees weakened by English ivy.
English ivy on a living tree.
English ivy on a living tree.

The volunteers attacked the English ivy near the roots of the vines, clipping them near the ground and then removing as much of the ivy as possible from the trees’ trunks. Vines that had climbed out of reach would die without their connection to their roots, and as they withered, the trees’ leaves would once again be exposed to crucial sunlight.

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Students hard at work, removing English ivy.
Students hard at work, removing English ivy.

The volunteers cleared ivy from many trees, but much work remains to be done. In addition to English ivy, invasive plants including kudzu and porcelainberry have also taken over trees and ground cover in the Chinquapin Run and Herring Run stream valleys. The Morgan Community Mile looks forward to returning to remove even more invasive plants.

Small But Successful Stream Cleanup

This past Saturday, November 22nd, I (Gussie Maguire) and Ellis Brown of the Morgan Community Mile joined forces with four intrepid volunteers to remove trash from the junction of the Chinquapin Run and Herring Run on Morgan State’s campus. We met at the Communications Building at 9am, dressed in layers of warm clothes to protect us from the frosty air. The first volunteer to arrive was my very own mother, a longtime resident of East Baltimore with a passion for the environment. Soon to follow were Treyvon, a member of the Campus 100, and Xavier, a brother of Beta Alpha Psi. We donned our work gloves, loaned to us from BlueWater Baltimore, and sallied forth, under the footbridge connecting the northernmost buildings to the rest of campus, down to the Chinquapin Run.

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Before we even reached the stream, we encountered litter scattered beneath the bridge–Doritos bags, candy wrappers, and cups from what seemed to be every well-known coffee chain. There was even a traffic cone suspended in a tree above the stream, supported by invasive vines. We removed what we could (though the traffic cone proved too difficult to reach without additional tools) and continued to our destination. Once we reached the intersection of the streams, we set straight to work. For the most part, large debris in the stream channels was limited. The majority of trash was plastic bags and bottles, tangled and embedded in the streams’ banks. However, we did encounter some surprisingly large objects. First, Treyvon, Xavier and I attacked a half-submerged lawnmower–yes, a lawnmower. Shockingly, there was a second lawnmower, though that one proved to be too tightly wedged for us to remove it. We plan to return in the spring with reinforcements, and maybe some metal shears.

Xavier, hard at work!
Xavier, hard at work!

Shortly after pulling out the lawnmower, we were joined in our efforts by Chaz, a second volunteer from the Campus 100. Work continued for another two hours, during which we collectively removed 15 trash bags full of waste, the lawnmower, a tire, part of a shopping cart, what appeared to be part of an old mattress, a (lead?) pipe, PVC pipe, a broomstick, and half a plastic chair. By 12pm, we had transported our findings back to the parking lot at which we started, where we waited for the city to remove the garbage.

The spoils of war.
The spoils of war!

Despite the small number of volunteers, we made a significant dent in the amount of trash at our location. However, we were only working in a small area. A hop, skip, and a jump away from our site, the streams still desperately need our help to relieve them of their plastic burden. We intend to return to the site in the spring, fortified by better weather and more volunteers.