by Jackie Bartz
2:33 PM AKDT, July 9, 2011
Armed with gardening gloves and shovels, over 100 volunteers attended the first ever Anchorage Weed Smackdown event held today at Valley of the Moon park.
The event was organized by Municipality of Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and several other organizations.
"We are dealing with the European Bird Cherry, or Mayday Tree here that has taken over the entire creek corridors along Chester Creek," said Scott Stringer, the forester for the Municipality of Anchorage.
Non-native plants can spread aggressively, and kill native species.This past winter, three moose died from cyanide poisoning after eating European Bird Cherry. They were the first ever documented cases of moose dying this way, according to the Alaska State Veterinarian.
"If we can get rid of the seed bearing trees and plant some natural trees in here, try to get a natural forest canopy going again, then we can get a handle on getting rid of the bird cherry," said Stringer.
Volunteers spent the better part of their morning muscling the trees out of the ground.
"We're here having fun pulling trees," said Jennifer Schober, a member of Rage City Roller Girls, a club volunteering at the event. "Thought we'd be pulling weeds, but we are pulling trees, which is a little bit more satisfying."
"It's really fun to see your progress, this was really dark when we got here and now it's light," said Aubrey Morrison, another member of Rage City Roller Girls.
Members of Anchorage Girl Scout Troops, the Anchorage Master Gardeners Club and Bureau of Land Management also volunteered.
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