On the southern edge of the Scioto Run subdivision in eastern Hilliard, a wonderful nature trail abuts the properties of 34 homeowners. This trail is a part of the Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department's network of parks.
Over the years, honeysuckle has grown exponentially, preventing new tree establishment and shading out native species.
As the recreation and parks department was learning about this issue, several homeowners decided to take a more active role, rolled up their sleeves and started making a difference. They created IBG -- Invasives: Be Gone! -- a neighborhood group that meets three times a week to pull up or cut down honeysuckle.
They started learning about invasive plants from the Nature Conservancy, a charitable environmental organization headquartered in Virginia. They learned the best method for removal, what to do with the pulled-up material and when to leave honeysuckle for the time being. They met with the recreation and parks department to create a partnership by registering IBG as the primary volunteer sponsorship of the nature trail as an "Adopt-a-Park" location.
The recreation and parks department provided a stronger herbicide as, unfortunately, the regular Roundup sold commercially isn't strong enough for the hardy honeysuckle. If the removal site isn't treated with the right herbicide, the honeysuckle will return.
The recreation and parks department also agreed to remove all the debris periodically. The plan was refined to pick up three times a year when the trail is dry or frozen.
In addition, a sign at the back entrance to the trail announces this Adopt-a-Park partnership among "Friends of the Trail, Scioto Run Civic Association and Hilliard Parks and Recreation."
Last, but certainly not least, the team uses the Nextdoor social-media app and an email list to share information about work sessions.
To date, volunteers have served approximately 440 hours in work sessions since early April, and volunteers would like to encourage participation from other Hilliard residents. (Hint! Hint!) This also is a great opportunity for children or students who need service hours.
The park users already are seeing the benefits of this project.
For example, there now are sightings of new wildlife in the cleared areas, including such water birds as herons, and more hawks.
More parents are taking their children to the creek's edge to explore because the honeysuckle is no longer preventing them from seeing the creek or even reaching it.
And volunteers get a wonderful sense of satisfaction from making the park better for themselves, for others, for the native plants and for the animals.
Melissa Muth is a member of the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission.