Thursday, August 13, 2009

Festering problem with Invasive trees and vines

For decades, a creep of invasive plants has been drifting north from the coastal prairies. I have observed this occurring my entire lifetime. When I was young, there were not many invasive trees, notably the Chinese Tallow. Now, there are forests in marsh areas, once inhabited by marsh creatures. The coastal marshes are however not in scope of this article. They are only examples of what can and will happen when invasive plants go unchecked. The Woodlands parks and paths have these trees, some in abundance. I am blessed by living next to one such park which demonstrates what can happen. We have a beautiful invasive tree population in this park. People like to see them in the Fall. They produce a lot of color. As the trees are allowed to grow unabated, birds spread their millions of seeds throughout The Woodlands. New trees are also propagated through their long root systems. An example of this propagation is shown in the leading photograph of this article. The little trees are on the edge of the pond and on this peninsula where residents sometimes picnic and fish. The tree is also very difficult to kill, and it propagates even when stressed. Some residents see this tree as a friend and actually take measures to protect and encourage its growth. If unchecked, in five years, the trees will be "small adults", about 8-10 feet tall. In 10 years, they will be full sized, reproducing prolifically. I have lived here more than 10 years now and watched as the population of this tree has grown. If we let it, it will eventually displace our forest, and we will be just like the prairie.

We do have an irradiation program, but it was designed for very visible spots, like entries into neighborhoods. The program replaces those trees removed with native trees. Perhaps we should prioritize this program and place more funds on it to get the job done. The other issue being brought forward here is the vine growth. We have a program to mitigate this issue as well. Mitigating the destruction of our trees by vines that grow well in the sunlight has been difficult. We have a contractor working on the program. It appears that the program is simply under funded, or just lacking sufficient resources to get the job done.

In short there are certain critical issues that must be resolved. Status quo in government transition may not be acceptable. We need our leaders to question these programs and make sure we have sufficient budget and emphasis to protect the natural environment which serves to make out community an exceptional place to live - in the forest.

Other resources 1Number 1 Enemy Chinese Tallow

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Gardening on community property

Do you know that The Woodlands Texas has a resident's gardening location and possibly will have a second one soon? Residents have gardened for years here. They wait in line for someone to relinquish a plot in the "garden" at the Bear Branch Sportsfields. The gardening plots are sectioned off and marked clearly to enable residents to have a vegetable or flower garden out in the sun. In the older parts of The Woodlands, some homes have practically no sun in their yards. Even now in August, some of the gardeners are working their little gardens. Some have trellises for vines; others have stakes, coverings and other tools to help them deal with the heat. Water delivered by hose is available close to all the plots. Sign-up is with the association, so you can access their pages there to see what the current process is to get a plot.

Bear Branch Sportsfields

Here in The Woodlands Texas, we have an excellent, beautiful and popular sports complex nestled in the forest. It is across the road from Bear Branch Park, next to Bear Branch Creek, a thin reserve of forest which serves as a wildlife sanctuary. This park is used primarily for soccer matches. These tables are handy for many people who use the park for soccer or play (example: Frisbee throwing). Golf is prohibited in this complex. There are seven adult size soccer fields. During soccer season, one will find many smaller fields carved out of the large ones to accommodate the needs of sports clubs for children.

A concession stand with restrooms is new. The grass on the fields is lush and exceptional. Chick-Fil-A manages the concession stand which opens at 8am on weekend mornings. Unfortunately for the writer, on this particular morning, they did not serve coffee.

Park rules are clearly explained on this sign near the parking lots.
There is plenty if parking, some 236 spaces. Getting there: From I45 heading north, take exit 76 to Research Forest Drive. Follow this road until you pass the light at Shadowbend (Montgomery College is located on the right) and proceed over the bridge at Bear Branch Creek. Click here for a Google map locating the complex.