The ANF’s YCC knocks back invasive knotweed

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Students in the Allegheny National Forest Youth Conservation Corps (left) Olivia Postlewait and Mia Huber cut invasive Japanese knotweed Thursday along Brokenstraw Creek.

Cutting down invasive plants may not be the most glamorous work, but it’s good for native species.

The Allegheny National Forest’s Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) got together Thursday along Brokenstraw Creek to knock back some Japanese knotweed as a habitat improvement project.

The 10 students in the YCC worked with five ANF personnel to clear about a half-acre of the western bank of knotweed in order to help the uncommon native white trout lily thrive.

The students were given a safety briefing prior to the work — covering bees, working in hot conditions, and working with sharp objects. Then, the crew went about the business of killing knotweed.

There was no concern about damaging the trout lily.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Students in the Allegheny National Forest Youth Conservation Corps cut Japanese knotweed Thursday along Brokenstraw Creek.

As a spring ephemeral, white trout lily is already out of the way, Ecologist April Moore said.

The crew cut down large areas of knotweed, most of it along the creekbank, but some about 50 feet back.

Moore cautioned the crew members not to drop the cut weed into the creek because, although it is already established downstream, the creek would help speed its spread.

ANF personnel will return in August to apply a chemical spray to the knotweed, Moore said, further knocking it back. The lily will be dormant by then.

YCC students Olivia Postlewait, Mia Huber, Walker Kyler, Derek Sunafrank, Tripp Hoover, Don Cunningham, Sam Walter, Jacob Moore, Madeline Roell, and Ryan Parrett worked with ANF Botanist Chelsea Rudolph, Bradford Youth Conservation Corps Coordinator Katie Gustafson, Marienville Youth Conservation Corps Coordinator Emily Olson, Sawyer Jerry Dixon, and Moore.

Moore was in charge of the Thursday event and she is familiar with the YCC program. “I really like the program,” she said. “Thirty years ago I was part of the program.”

The program employs students ages 15 to 18 for eight weeks in the summer.

After their work on the knotweed, students from the Marienville Ranger District were heading off to plant trees while Bradford District students worked on erosion control at the beanfields parking lot in Irvine.

Moore said the YCC students will be working with specialists in the areas of archaeology and wildlife biology in the coming week.

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