Last month, DEP employees from the Southeast Regional Office teamed up with friends from the Tookany-Tacony Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF) to battle a common enemy: the invasive Porcelain Berry.
On August 8, the volunteers snipped, clipped, pulled, cut and removed as much of the vine as they could from a riparian buffer zone at Abington Junior High School in Montgomery County. The 24,000-square-foot project was initiated in the fall of 2012 by TTF with funding from TreeVitalize and the Carbon Fund and in partnership with Abington School District and the Abington Environmental Advisory Council.
As with most restoration projects, the threat of invasive plants crowding out or suffocating native plants can greatly impact the overall success of a riparian buffer. To put it plainly, a riparian buffer is a strip of vegetated land near a stream, creek or river, that helps protect the water quality. At Abington Junior High School, the buffer was planted with native trees, shrubs and wildflowers to filter water prior to entering East Baeder Creek, a headwaters tributary of Tookany Creek.
Michelle Mancuso, Sanitarian Trainee in DEP’s Southeast Regional Safe Drinking Water program, was one of the first to volunteer for the clean-up effort. “It’s an incredible opportunity for us to get our hands dirty and physically act out the Agency’s mission. We are the Department of Environmental Protection and we came here to defend this waterway from an intruder.”
Over the course of four hours, the small but mighty group of volunteers freed numerous trees, bushes, and native plants from the grasp of the Porcelain Berry. "Volunteers are key to our creek restoration work. They get the work done and then share their experience and knowledge with friends and colleagues,” said TTF Executive Director Julie Slavet. “We are so honored that our PA DEP partners lent their valuable time and energy to help maintain one of our headwater plantings. We can't wait to work with this amazing team again."
To learn more about the Tookany-Tacony Frankford Watershed Partnership, how to effectively remove invasive plants from the TTF watershed or opportunities to get involved, visit www.ttfwatershed.org.