Volunteers sought to pull weeds from Trillium Trail

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Volunteers plucked 125 garbage bags full of garlic mustard from Fox Chapel's Trillium Trail last spring, and Maria Harrington is shooting to double that total this year.

Harrington is coordinator of the volunteer effort that she hopes one day will erase the highly-aggressive weed from the park.

“Garlic mustard has a two-year life cycle, so if we are vigilant this year and next, we could remove it from the park,” she said.

Harrington is appealing to students interested in earning community service hours to turn out for one of eight scheduled weed-pulling events.

“It's very important to engage children in conservation efforts, particularly those that are in their backyards or their local parks,” said Harrington, a member of the Fox Chapel parks commission.

The weed pulls are scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. on April 26 and 27 and May 3 and 4.

Volunteers can meet at the lower Trillium Trail entrance along Squaw Run Road.

The property is part of a National Science Foundation-funded study that examines the relationship between the borough's overabundance of deer and its native plants and invasive species such as garlic mustard.

Susan Kalisz, professor of biology at the University of Pittsburgh, has led the 11-year study that found an excessive deer population has hurt native plant biodiversity.

“When people walk in the woods where deer are overabundant, they don't realize what's missing,” Kalisz said.

The parks commission aims to rid the trail of the invasive weeds, which deer won't eat, and help trillium and other native plants reclaim the space.

Anyone interested in helping can bring four large garbage bags, bug spray and gardening gloves. Plants are pulled easily, Harrington said. Parents must attend with their children.

By pulling the garlic mustard plants before they spread seeds, Harrington said, volunteers have a chance to see wildflowers return to the trail.

At last year's event, 45 volunteers helped to pull out the 125 bags full of garlic mustard, up from 80 bags in 2012.

The volunteer event is perfect to engage children in science, technology, engineering and math-related topics and community service projects, Harrington said.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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