GCA and ATC Host Weed Wrangle Event

A new partnership between the The Garden Club of America and the

Appalachian Trail Conservancy aims to combat the presence of invasive plants.

On Thursday, May 16, members of The Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy joined forces for their first ever “Weed Wrangle.” The afternoon served as the inaugural event of the partnership, which will ultimately see the removal of invasive vegetation from areas throughout the Appalachian Trail.

The event was held along the boardwalk in The Great Swamp, near the Metro North train stop on Route 22 in Pawling. The site was chosen due to the abundance of Japanese barberry shrubs that were lining the trail. The removal of these shrubs not only helps to stop the advancement of the vegetation, but also helps to protect hikers from ticks. Following their removal, the plants were generously disposed of by Pete Muroski of Native Landscapes.

Fifteen volunteers came out for the event, including Suzanne Dixon, President and CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, whose headquarters is located in Harpers Ferry, WV. “We’re always going to be maintaining and managing the trail, but we also need to protect and preserve it,” explained Dixon. “We want to make it accessible for everyone.”

The “Weed Wrangle” represents the first step in a mutually beneficial partnership between the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the Garden Club of America (GCA), represented in Pawling by The Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties. The Garden Club of America boasts more than 18,000 members, many of whom will partake in similar events covering the entirety of the Appalachian Trail. “We want to conduct these events all along the trail in all fourteen states,” explained Conservation Chair Michele Lindsay. “Garden Club members will be able to participate wherever they can in their respective areas. It will be an ongoing process for as long as it takes.” The “Weed Wrangle” is a program created by the GCA.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, in addition to being guardians of the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail, has already left an enduring mark on our community. Last year, the organization completed efforts to lobby the U.S. government to acquire a 200-plus acre parcel of land in Pawling, known as Corbin Hill, largely to protect the view shed from Cat Rocks, which is on the Appalachian Trail. The parcel is now owned by The National Park Service. “The more our community can engage with organizations like ATC and GCA, the better it is for us,” says local resident Dorian Winslow, who is a member of the GCA and participated in the “Weed Wrangle.”