Invasive Plant Removal at Franklin Gulf County Park
Written By: Nick Ransbury, WNY PRISM Education and Outreach Assistant
On Friday, July 14, 2017, as part of New York State’s Invasive Species Awareness Week, WNY PRISM hosted a volunteer workday at Franklin Gulf County Park, to remove invasive plants that have taken hold in the preserve. An invasive species is a non-native plant, animal, or disease that is introduced into a new environment and causes, or has a great potential to cause, environmental and economic harm, and in some cases harm to human health. The volunteer workday at Franklin Gulf was one of the many Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW) activities that occurred from July 9 – 15. This year marked the 4th annual ISAW, an effort to educate the public and get them involved in managing invasive species. This year’s theme was ‘Invasive Species Reality Check: Where We Are & Where We Need to Go’.
Franklin Gulf, formerly known as Larkin Woods, is a 637 acre park owned and maintained by Erie County. The majority of the park is forested, containing extensive stands of eastern hemlock and American beech. The canopy cover provided by these species creates a habitat rich with decaying plant material; making Franklin Gulf a mycologist’s paradise. The unique nature and rich biodiversity of Franklin Gulf makes it one of the most beautiful places in Erie County to spend time. However, within the park are a variety of invasive species threatening what makes it so unique.
Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) is the most common invasive species found at Franklin Gulf. This species has spread into natural areas after it was introduced into many homeowner’s gardens, as an ornamental plant. Once in the wild, it outcompetes native species, resulting in the loss of biodiversity and decreased forage for wildlife. Also common within Franklin Gulf is multi-flora rose (Rosa multiflora), which has a similar negative impact as barberry. Both of these species will be the targets for removal during the volunteer workday. WNY PRISM and our Partners with the Eden Conservation Board and Erie County Parks invited volunteers to lend a hand in controlling these persistent invaders.
By working together, it is possible to fight back the invasion and help restore the environment to the way it should be. There are many ways for you to take action, including volunteering. However, the first and most important step is prevention. Being aware of your actions can help stop the spread of these invasive species. So be sure you’re not packing a pest, clean off your boots after hiking, plant natives in your gardens instead of invasive plants, clean mowers and vehicles, and don’t release any non-native species into the environment. Following these guidelines will help keep your local environment healthy.
This article ran in the Eden-North Collins Pennysaver on July 22, 2017.