Removing invasive species from Thompson Park

Published: Jun. 19, 2022 at 4:23 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - What started as a volunteer effort has now evolved into a full blown war on invasive species. Its target? Foreign flora like buckthorn and honeysuckle.

Watertown City Planner Mike DeMarco says for decades the pesky plants have occupied a large portion of Thompson Park’s underbrush, preventing trees from sprouting and stunting the growth of park deer.

“We have deer here in Thompson Park that are rather scrawny. It shows mainly because they have a small food source,” said DeMarco.

As part of their plan, the city has brought in a company called B&R Tree Experts. .

Thursday, its work started and the sound of heavy machinery rang out in areas where it’s usually quiet.

“They will begin by cutting the trees, the invasive shrubs with a chainsaw and then running that stuff through a chipper,” said DeMarco.

Bulldozers are going to be used to clear up wood waste so that grass and more desirable trees can be planted.

DeMarco says that once the buckthorn is clear and trees are planted, the park will appear far more open, taking on the appearance of a grassland. This opens the door for planned trail additions and revisions towards the west of the park.

“This will allow for more accessible trail use. Wider spaces so that multiple folks can use the trail at the same time and also encourage winter sports such as cross country skiing,” said DeMarco.

Once the work is finished, regular maintenance will still need to be done to prevent the return of the invasive species.

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