Urban Forest Edge Management Through Public Engagement
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Numerous pathways connect Columbia’s community-centered suburban villages. These well-traveled paths are perfect for dog walkers, runners, and any citizen desiring a connection to nature that is close to home. Columbia’s paths follow stream corridors, guarded by vegetation, which tends to struggle against the influence of invasive plant species. Creating a means to manage the presence of such invasive species will promote Columbia’s beautiful and welcoming environment, thus working toward the Columbia Association’s goal of “making Columbia the community of choice,” and sustaining its coveted more than 3,500 acres of open space (Columbia Association). This paper analyzed various invasive species removal programs conducted throughout the local area to provide the Columbia Association with feedback to help determine what form of invasive species management program, if any, they may be interested in developing. It looked at the effectiveness of each program’s management, and if they have been effective or ineffective by addressing the following questions: How have local organizations fostered public engagement in urban forest edge management? What experiences can these organizations share to help form the most efficient forest edge management program for Columbia, Maryland? Invasive plant species pose a threat to native vegetation because of their ability to take over new environments rapidly. Human actions can influence the spread of invasive species into new areas, but changing environmental conditions also contributes to the spread of invasives. Particularly successful invasive plants can ultimately alter the natural biodiversity of a region by contributing to the extinction of native vegetation and altering the ecosystem webs of interaction between native flora and fauna (MD DNR). To preserve native species and maintain the complexity of regional biodiversity, actions must be taken to control the spread of invasive plants. This is a tedious task, and it is an ongoing one, as invasive plants are capable of being reintroduced to landscapes they were previously removed from. Because of the ongoing efforts necessary to control invasive plants, the efforts of local volunteers are being enlisted throughout the country. Maryland and Virginia have a number of programs that encourage volunteer participation in removing invasive species, including programs in Montgomery County, Baltimore County, and Carroll County in Maryland, and Arlington and Richmond in Virginia.