By Drew Rinaldi Subits, Land Stewardship Coordinator
You may have recently noticed a large clearing across the trail from Pine Grove, which has been steadily cleared and then mowed and maintained throughout the Spring and Summer months. If you have been there more recently, you may have noticed fencing and a young grove of trees and shrubs.
This newest planting effort was possible through the collaboration of our Land and Facilities team, a state-funded tree planting grant initiative from TreeVitalize, and a RJ Carbone, a local young man looking to complete his Eagle Scout project.
For the past five years, the Schuylkill Center has been the recipient of one these TreeVitalize grants which is intended to promote and develop sustainable urban forestry programs within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We have planting sites all over the property, typically marked by black plastic deer fencing, that helps protect the young, relatively fragile trees. The Land and Facilities team was certainly excited for this particular location as it is one of the most visible and popular sites on the property, just down the trail from the Hagy’s Mill parking lot and across from the well-known Pine Grove.
Previously this planting site had been a grove of the equally infamous Devil’s Walking Stick (Aralia elata), one of the more common, pesky, and aggressive invasive tree stands in our region. These ecosystem dominators thrive by using rhizome root structures which means the roots continually spread and rapidly create new tree shoots underground in all directions. In areas such as this, they quickly become the only species left standing, and totally outgrow, outcompete, and out-resource all other species, especially eco-precious natives.
These tree planting efforts came together on a beautiful September morning when Boy Scout Troop 177 of Wyndmoor, PA supported RJ in completing his Eagle Scout project. There were a total of 51 people throughout the day, logging a total of 221 volunteer hours, to plant and mulch 100 native trees and 40 shrubs. The team also constructed a deer fence around the perimeter of the entire planting site to give the young trees a fighting chance in this disrupted urban forest environment.
The planting was a great success, thanks to the efforts of all those involved, the Land and Facilities team, RJ’s planning, execution, and general leadership of a large group of eager helpers from Troop 177, and of course the crucial financial support of the TreeVitalize program. It is these continued efforts that will make the difference and go a long way to ensure the slow and steady reforestation and next generation of forest canopy and native local ecosystems. Many thanks to all involved, and here’s to the future forest!