One invasive species has overpowered nature but it proved no match Saturday for a group of volunteers.
A group of Scouts from Webelos Den Four in Pack 13 pulled out purple loosestrife plants in Elk Township. First, they gathered at Scandia Community Center to learn about the species.
Warren County Conservation District Watershed Specialist Jean Gomory told they group they were located in the Conewango Watershed. If they crossed the street, she said they would be in the Allegheny Watershed.
Scouts pulling loosestrife plants
At some point, Gomory said the water ends up in the Mississippi River. She said this means they were also in the Mississippi Watershed.
An invasive species has invaded parts of the area, Gomory said. The purple loosestrife contains a pretty flower, she said, and so settlers brought the plant to decorate their cabins when they came from Europe 400 years ago.
The plant also served a medicinal purpose, Gomory said, though the non-native species lacked a natural control. In their natural habitats, she said everything has controls such as raccoons who eat fish and prevent them from overwhelming the waters.
Times Observer photo by Colin Kyler
At left, Elk Township Supervisor Jeff Carlstrom discusses how the scouts’ project will help the environment. Above, Caleb removes one of the invasive plants.
Europe and Asia have a bug which eats the purple loosestrife, Gomory said. People can't bring the bug over, she said, but then nothing would control it.
Elk Township Supervisor Jeff Carlstrom compared the scenario in the song about swallowing a spider to catch a fly. "It goes and goes," he said.
The plant likes wet areas, Gomory said, and can produce two million seeds in a year. Water carries the seeds, she said, as do animals.
The plants have the ability to outcompete native species, Gomory said, and grow thick. To see results, she said workers would need to monitor the same spot several years in a row.
According to Carlstrom, the plants at the work site started near a pond. Over time, he said they have spread to a roadside ditch.
Den Leader Jodi Holland said half of the members showed up. Though they have other community service projects, she said they have never done this type of work before.
"One boy said it was right up his alley," Holland said.