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July 22, 2011

Hold Your Ground Against The Invaders

Smith College junior to hold a free workshop for the community on Saturday, Aug. 6, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., about battling invasive plants.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Like unwelcome guests, invasive plants arrive unannounced, don’t behave and are notoriously difficult to get rid of.

But, after addressing the removal of invasive plants along the Mill River, which runs through the Smith College campus, one student will share with local residents her knowledge about how to get rid of those pesky newcomers that threaten native species.

1Brittany Innis, an environmental science and policy major, will host an invasive species removal workshop on Saturday, Aug. 6, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. The workshop is supported by Smith’s Center for the Environment, Ecological Design and Sustainability (CEEDS), the Connecticut River Watershed Council, Mill River Greenway and Grow Food Northampton.

“Invasive plants grow quickly and take over,” said Innis, who mapped and removed the invasive species on campus with the assistance of the New England Wildflower Society. “These new plants are a threat to the environment because they are competing for the same resources as native plants.”

Throughout the past two years, Innis successfully mitigated nine invasive species on more than 100,000 square feet of land along the Mill River.

She also drafted a long-term plan for the college to continue to address the issue because invasive species often return. The plan requires Smith to inspect the area at least once a semester and remove and treat new invasive plant growth every summer.

The species that Innis targeted include autumn olive, Japanese barberry, multiflora rose, Tartarian honeysuckle, winged euonymus, bittersweet, glossy buckthorn, Norway maple and Japanese knotweed.

Invasive species spread easily, according to Reid Bertone-Johnson, landscape studies lecturer and Innis’ adviser. Their seeds spread through bird droppings and their roots can wash down a river and find a new home.

They will return unless the land surrounding campus is cleared, an effort that is now being led by the Mill River Greenway Initiative, said Bertone-Johnson.

Innis agreed. “It’s a slow process but it’s exciting to know that you’ve taken the first step of giving the native species a fighting chance.”

The first half of the workshop will be held in the CEEDS center in Wright Hall, and Innis will discuss how to identify and remove invasive plants most common to this region. Afterward, the group will travel to Grow Food Northampton’s property on Meadow Street to test out techniques for removing invasive plants.

The workshop is free but registration is required and seating is limited. Some gardening tools will be provided, but participants are encouraged to bring their own hand clippers and gloves, and to wear long sleeves and pants. Participants are responsible for transportation to the Grow Food Northampton site.

For more information or to register, contact Innis at


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190

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