A partnership between PRISM and the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) is working towards ridding invasives to allow a lush meadow for pollinators, birds, animals, and hikers to enjoy.
In December 2017 work began in western Greene County in a partnership between the PRISM and the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC). At the heart of the project is a five-acre field at the bottom of Mutton Hollow, next to the Vining Cabin, well-loved by PATC members. PATC leases or owns over 1,000 acres of Mutton Hollow just below Hightop along the Appalachian Trail. Much of that land, including this field, has been infested by invasive plants: Paulownia, Ailanthus, Autumn Olive, Multiflora Rose, Wineberry, Honeysuckle, Garlic Mustard, Perilla, Stiltgrass, and others.
With a budget of $17,000 provided by the Vining family and the RCPP/EQIP award obtained by the PRISM, the field, and several surrounding forest buffer acres are well on their way to ecological transformation. A forest mulcher was deployed to the field for three days in December 2017, grinding up invasive trees and shrubs (see photo above).
In 2018, the stumps were treated with herbicide, the field was sprayed for invasive forbs, and the PRISM led two work weekends with some 15 PATC volunteers, focused on the surrounding forested acres. The 2018 activities were repeated in 2019 and will be again in 2020. With one final spray in spring 2021, the field will be safe to plant with native warm-season grasses and pollinator plants, relieved of most of the competitive pressure from the exotic seedbank. By 2023 there should be a lush meadow for pollinators, birds, animals, and hikers to enjoy!
We are so thankful for the leadership of two PATC tract managers who have championed this project within the Club. None of this would have been possible without them. The PRISM is now beginning a collaboration with another group of PATC members along the Appalachian Trail in Clarke County. Working together these projects help restore our landscapes to a more natural state.