Category Archives: Accomplishments

What a Beautiful Sight!

by Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post September 29-Oct. 5, 2018

Bright orange bittersweet berries in this photo taken in 2014 on Cranberry Lane may look beautiful draping our trees in fall. But the the really beautiful sight is the DEAD vines of Oriental bittersweet, as shown at the top of this article,–same patch of bittersweet, after we killed the vines.

Alien invasive oriental bittersweet vines smother a tree and weigh it down, often killing it.  Native grape vines do the same.  Grape used to thrive only at the edges of large contiguous forests, but these days, since our forests are so cut up, edges–and grapes–are everywhere.  It’s a native acting invasive.

Vine fruits feed birds, but alien and invasive vines also harm wildlife by killing trees and shrubs and forming a monoculture.  For example, an oak tree supports the larvae of 518 species of native butterflies and moths.  Maple supports 287. Continue reading What a Beautiful Sight!

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Packing Material Gone Rogue

By Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post of Sept. 4-11, 2018

Having arrived in the U.S. as packing material for porcelain, Japanese stilt grass now invades river banks and forests, smothering native plants, including tree seedlings; secreting chemicals toxic to other plants; and significantly reducing wild life, except a type of invasive rat, which loves it.

We’re Trying to Prevent This: Japanese stilt grass has taken over this forest (not ours), smothering natives and reducing wild life. http://nyis.info/invasive_species/japanese-stiltgrass/

Seeds arrive in streams and animal hooves, and are viable in the ground for 5 years.   Japanese stilt grass has newly come to Lathrop’s campuses, but WE’RE ON IT!

It’s an annual, with shallow roots.  Small invasions can be pulled by hand in late summer, before the plants set Continue reading Packing Material Gone Rogue

Sneaking in the Woods

by Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post of Aug. 25-Sept. 3, 2018

By Barbara Walvoord

Last week I wrote about our wonderful success in removing invasive plants from our north campus woods.  More broadly, we’ve removed invasives from fifty acres of our forests on both campuses.

The bad news: Alien invasive ground covers like vinca (also called periwinkle or myrtle), pachysandra, English ivy, ajuga, and snow-on-the-mountain are sneaking into the woods from surrounding gardens or arriving when residents throw plant parts into the woods.  Continue reading Sneaking in the Woods

Lathrop’s Invisible Project

By Barbara Walvoord

On July 9, nine residents trekked through fields and woods to the far north section of the east campus along Bassett Brook. This land is largely invisible to most residents.  It lies beyond our trails and beyond the “Free Fifty” acres of forest from which we’ve removed invasives in the past.

Jeff Allen leads residents to see where he has been removing invasives

It’s still a basically healthy forest, quiet and beautiful, with maples and pines on rolling slopes along the multi-channeled Bassett Brook and its wetland.  But scientific research shows that the increasing presence of invasive plants like multiflora rose, shrub honeysuckle, and oriental bittersweet could significantly reduce the wildlife our land can support (http://www.inwoodlands.org/what-do-our-private-invasive/).

So we’ve begun a project to remove invasives, following science-based guidelines recommended by experts.  Resident volunteers Continue reading Lathrop’s Invisible Project

Taxes

by Barbara Walvoord

Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post, Dec. 21, 2018.

The new Republican tax bill is all over the news lately, but we’re not the first people who’ve had to think hard about taxes at this holiday season.  Hannukah celebrates the rededication of the temple in the year 165 BCE, after the Jews, oppressed by cruel taxes and other wrongs, had risen up and defeated their Greek occupiers.  In the Christian story, the reason Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem in the first place was because Rome had decreed that  “all the world should be taxed,” and Jews must travel to the town of their family’s origin to pay up.  A carpenter and his 9-month pregnant wife had to walk or ride a donkey to a hugely overcrowded town with not enough hotels.  American colonists were so mad about British taxes on tea that on December 16, 1773, they dumped their own precious tea into the Boston harbor. Continue reading Taxes

Successful “Free Fifty” Celebration

by Barbara Walvoord

First appeared in Lathrop Lamp Post Oct. 21-27, 2017

More than 80 residents, Valley conservationists, and members of the public gathered on Oct. 21 to celebrate Lathrop’s removal of invasive plants from the “Free Fifty” acres of forest on both campuses–a unique accomplishment that science suggests will increase the wildlife on our land.  A program in the Inn was followed by guided walks on both campuses. The audience included many of those who helped us: consultants from 7 prominent conservation organizations, 28 resident volunteers who removed invasives, scores of residents who donated funds, and  3 granting agencies (Kendal Charitable Funds, Community Foundation of Western Mass., and the Northampton Community Preservation Committee).

Guided walk participants expressed their delight in walking through woods that are not choked with invasive plants, and said over and over how amazed they are at our accomplishment.  Lathrop is a visible participant in the Valley community of those who care about nature, conservation, and wildlife. A collage of photos is at Free 50 collage LampPostFree50 em.  Copies of the handout materials are at https://lathropland.wordpress.com/free-fifty-celebration-oct-21/

Roses Out, Roses In

By Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post for Sept. 16-22, 2017

In the past three years, we’ve removed literally thousands of invasive multiflora roses from our land–roses that crowd out native plants but fail to support wildlife as fully as our native plants do.

Join us October 21 at 1 p.m. in the Inn to celebrate the demise of these roses and other invasive plants on our “Free Fifty” acres of land, on both campuses.  The program is also open to the public.  Pre-registration is required  because space is limited.  Residents will receive invitations in their mailboxes soon.

We’re also adding roses–native ones in the native plant landscaping area near the Inn.  On Sept. 18, at 10:30, residents may gather there for a short celebration, including an explanation by our landscape Continue reading Roses Out, Roses In