On January 24, 2022, the Office of Ecological Sustainability hosted a “weed wrangle” to tackle encroaching invasive species in the forested landscape of Nazareth, in partnership with the University of Kentucky Department of Forestry and Natural Resources and the Kentucky Master Naturalist Program through the Cooperative Extension Office. Carolyn Cromer, Director of Ecological Sustainability, and Julia Gerwe, AmeriCorps volunteer, welcomed volunteers to Nazareth to learn about forest health and the threat of invasive plant species, and to remove these problematic species at Nazareth.

Invasive plants are exotic, non-native plants introduced to a foreign environment that rapidly take over that environment without their usual environmental pressures. Invasive species often crowd out native species, disrupting ecosystems and critters that rely on certain plants for food or shelter. Globally, the spread and colonizing success of invasive plants is being further intensified by climate change.

Guests in attendance during this workday included Alexandra Blevins, a Kentucky Division of Forestry (KDF) Forest Health Specialist; Dr. Ellen Crocker, Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky and Forest Health Extension Officer; several students and researchers from the University of Kentucky; and various Master Naturalists in-training from around the state. Together, the group removed bush honeysuckle, privet, multiflora rose, and winter creeper in the forested area northeast of the SCN Center at Nazareth. Julia and Carolyn are thrilled by the impact that the workday had, and are hopeful that the clearing of these plants will allow native species to regenerate in Nazareth’s forest.

Carolyn Cromer educates “weed wrangle” participants on proper methods for removing invasive species at Nazareth.

Alexandra Blevins, KDF Forest Health Specialist, discusses forestry management practices with UK students at Nazareth.

Two UK Forestry students working hard to remove young bush honeysuckle plants.

Julia and other Master Naturalists in-training pause their field work to smile for the camera, thankful to use their new knowledge to volunteer at Nazareth.

Two Master Naturalists in-training show the cut bush honeysuckle they’ve “wrangled”, paving the way for healthier ecosystems in the forest.