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NOVA Parks and Arlington Naturalists are partnering to clear Upton Hill of invasive plants

Volunteers at Upton Hill Regional Park removing honeysuckle vines (photo courtesy of NOVA Parks)

A recently-announced partnership between is helping to clear hundreds of invasive plants from Upton Hill Regional Park.

For the past year, work has been ongoing to remove invasive plants from the 27-acre Upton Hill Regional Park located on Wilson Blvd in the Dominion Hills neighborhood. In particular, work has focused on a two acre section of the wooded section of the park with the highest concentration of invasives.

The work is being done by NOVA Parks, the inter-jurisdictional organization that operates Upton Hill, in collaboration with Arlington Master Naturalists, a group of certified volunteers with the mission of protecting local public lands. The partnership between the two organization is being touted by NOVA Parks in conjunction with today’s Earth Day holiday.

Nearly 1,000 volunteer hours were logged in 2021 managing invasive plants at the park, according to a NOVA Parks press release. In particular, volunteers cleared 19 invasive plants that are commonly found in Arlington, including Amur Honeysuckle, English Ivy, Wintercreeper, Rose of Sharon, and Winged Burning Bush.

“Park visitors who know the difference between native and invasive plants will already see a difference, as the natural habitat has been significantly enhanced,” Jill Barker of the Arlington Master Naturalists said. “We are thrilled with the partnership and progress over the last year.”

The work remains ongoing since the removal of invasive plants “is never really done,” notes the release.

Paul Gilbert, the executive director of NOVA Parks, tells ARLnow that the effort is costing NOVA Parks “at least” $100,000 a year in staff time, equipment, and a $60,000 a year contract that brings in “expert contractors to complement the efforts of volunteers and NOVA Parks staff.”

“This work will continue for years,” Gilbert said. “It may scale up or down some based on need over the years.”

Twice a month, the park hosts an invasive plant removal event. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up. The next one is being held this coming Thursday (April 28).

NOVA Parks and Arlington Master Naturalists have recently partnered on other programs as well. In 2020 and 2021 the two organizations, along with the Arlington branch of the NAACP, hosted the “Black and Latin/Hispanic Birder and Naturalist Series.” One of the leaders of that program was noted forestry trailblazer — and Arlington resident — Melody Mobley.

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