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Shenandoah National Park invites the public to join in a weekend to Save the Meadow! May 17-18, 2008. (Rain dates are June 7-8, 2008.) Staff and volunteers from the park will illustrate the beauty and rare importance of the site and species found within Big Meadows. The public is encouraged to participate in invasive control activity led by park staff and volunteers. Invasive species threaten to degrade the highly valued plant community found at Big Meadows Swamp, a wet meadow. The swamp is a natural heritage site of rare significance.
Save the Meadow! follows the park’s Wildflower Weekend of the previous week. It is intended to demonstrate how the public can volunteer to fight back against invasive plants and how with simple awareness they can avoid environmental problems in their own neighborhoods. Free park admission is offered to those who attend the event by contacting the invasive plant control volunteer leader in advance at (540) 999-3492.
Activities begin at the Byrd Visitor Center auditorium at Big Meadows on Saturday, 9:00 A.M. (repeated at 1:30 P.M.) and Sunday, 10:30 A.M. Informative talks will be followed by opportunities for volunteering to control invasive plants in the Big Meadows area. ARAMARK Enterprises, the concessionaire operating the park’s hotel and restaurant system, invites people interested in staying overnight to contact them for reservations at (800) 999-4714. Save the Meadow! is part of a larger program for increasing public volunteerism in national parks. It is made possible by a grant from the National Park Foundation and the Tauck Foundation.
Over 25 percent of the documented plant species at Shenandoah National Park are not native to the area. Many of those plants do not have the normal biological control agents from their home environments and thus have unfair advantage over natives. They are therefore invasive. Though exotic plants are not new to the area, invasive impacts are increasingly serious. Native species are being displaced and the process of forest succession is being stopped by the overwhelming presence of such plants as garlic mustard, kudzu, mile-a-minute vine, Oriental bittersweet, Oriental lady’s thumb, tree of heaven and others. Without controls, it may become impossible to maintain the park’s designated federal wilderness in a natural untrammeled condition. By presidential Executive Order #13112, the National Park Service is directed to control invasive species and ensure that no new exotic infestations become established.
For more information on the Save the Meadow! event, contact the Shenandoah National Park’s Invasive Plant Management office at 540-999-3492 or visit the park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/shen/ then press “Support the Park” and “Volunteer.”