GHI Woodlands Committee Spring Thaw
GHI owns 250 acres of land and about one-third of that (86 acres) is woodland. The Woodlands Committee “leads efforts to protect and manage the GHI woodlands, fosters their ecological health, encourages GHI members to enjoy nature recreation that has minimal environmental impact, and supports plant and animal biodiversity.” On Saturday, March 24, I attended the committee’s annual Spring Thaw Social at the GHI Administration Building.
This display shows some of the Woodlands Committee’s activities: “trail improvement, woodland walks, invasive plant management, educational workshops, common area improvements, advising GHI Board, volunteering to protect our woodlands.”
The social is attended by committee and GHI members. Committee member Richard Olsen is a scientist and leader of the urban tree breeding program at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. He came to Greenbelt after finishing graduate school in North Carolina and has lived in GHI for three years. He tells me that his research focuses on breeding superior landscape trees with pest and disease resistance and he has studied hemlocks in particular. He says that he loves working outdoors and thinks Greenbelt and GHI are doing a good job maintaining the forested woodlands.
Committee member Michael Chesnes is a contractor and reference librarian at NASA Goddard Library and has lived in GHI since October 2009. He tells that when he was looking to buy a GHI unit, he talked to Peter Blank, a Woodlands Committee member, and knew then that he would join the committee. He talks about committee work days when members and volunteers remove invasive vegetation, clean up trash and debris, and plant trees.
Committee member Kathie Jarva tells about the committee’s next public event on April 21. The group will remove invasive plants between 58 and 62 Ridge Road. She also reminds everybody that Pepco’s community meeting on April 24 will discuss tree trimming and the committee will again give out seedlings at the GHI annual meeting in May. There will again be both sun-loving and shade-loving plants.
Jean Snyder asks whether the committee knows about the tree recently taken down on Gardenway, and Richard Olsen explains that it was a red oak and the city asked GHI beforehand whether it wants the chips. He says that the city cannot leave a dying tree around for it to become a liability.
A member says that she wants to replace plantings in her yard with native species and her neighbor Kate Bucco, a Woodlands Committee member, told her that committee members can help. She also wants to know which plants are invasive.
Committee member Ed James, who is the Board of Directors liaison to the committee, tells that as a rule of thumb, invasive species are those that don’t need any work and grow back after constant pulling and cutting, such as English ivy. Kathie Jarva says that GHI’s website has a great deal of information about invasive species and planting tips. She also encourages members wanting to know what to do with their yard to bring photos to the committee meeting to get suggestions.
Mayor Davis drops by the meeting and wants to know whether there is anything she can do. She says that Lesley Riddle, the city’s Assistant Director of Public Works, has been working closely with Matt Berres, GHI’s Director of Maintenance Operations, on tree-related issues and together they have worked with Pepco on its tree trimming plan. Berres is the GHI staff liaison to the Woodlands Committee; he was here at the start of the meeting but had to leave early.
Mary Denise Smith recently moved into GHI. She is quite happy with her house facing the woodlands and is still discovering the plants in her yard as they, such as daffodils and tulips, come out this spring. She is looking at attending more committee meetings and events.
Susan Harris (left) is also a new GHI resident. She is a garden writer and blogger and recently wrote an article about hedge pruning in the Greenbelt News Review. She says that her interest is in sustainable gardening and in particular she has given talks about alternatives to lawns. Kathie Jarva invites her to speak at the committee meeting on the third Wednesday of the month.
Committee member Helen Meleny looks through a booklet on invasive plants. There is a GHI Least Wanted List, and it includes English ivy, multiflora rose, Japanese honeysuckle, and bamboo (“running” species).
Members and visitors mingle at the social hour.
Kathie Jarva (second from right) points out the locations of rain gardens on a GHI map. There is one at the 33 Court Ridge Road and one at 6 Court Plateau Place. The Woodlands Committee is discussing with the city to install a new rain garden in the city park behind 1 Court Gardenway, by the Sunoco gas station. This location is selected because a large amount of rain water is channeled through this area during rain storms. This will also be a project to celebrate the city’s 75th anniversary. In the photo are from left Ken Jarva, Ben Fischler, and committee members Kathie Jarva and Cindy Henneberger.
There was going to be a guided walk in the surrounding woods, but because of the rain, that has been canceled. Coming out of the gathering, Mara Hemminger and I decide to check out the Hamilton Trail on our own. At the city’s website, Hamilton Cemetery is described: “Located at the end of Hamilton Place, it is marked with a display case holding the remains of the marble headstones from that site. The headstones date back to the early 1800’s and include those of John Hamilton, who patented 240 acres of the land that is now included in Greenbelt; his wife, Jane; their son Colonel Samuel Hamilton who served in the Maryland House of Delegates and two of his wives.”
What is that by the trail?
Is it really a box turtle?
There is a stream and a small bridge.
At times one has to deal with fallen trees over the trail.
The Hamilton Trail is about 0.6-mile long. One emerges at 44 Court of Ridge Road at Eastway, and from there it’s a 0.4-mile walk back to the start of the trail.
The nature guide at GHI’s website has this to say: “The trail traverses both a younger transitional forest and mature Oak-Hickory forest through GHI woodland parcels E & D and the City of Greenbelt Forest Preserve.” And the guide lists some notable attractions along the trail including black walnut, ailanthus, black locust, poison ivy, pignut hickory, sassafras, pawpaw, and arrowwood.