Non-Native Invasive Plants – Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness

Non-Native Invasive Plant Survey in Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness

During the growing season of 2010, Wild Virginia conducted a survey for non-native invasive plants (NNIP) in the Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness Area of the George Washington National Forest (GWNF).Two field workers traversed approximately 29 miles of trails and streams within the wilderness area.Three other areas were also surveyed:Mountain House picnic and trailhead area, Confederate Breastworks parking and trailhead area, and the Sexton Cabin area of Jerry’s Run Trail.

The 8 page Project Report is available for viewing.An Informational Brochure was also created, and can be viewed in either an 8 Panel format or 2 Sided format.

NNIP are a threat to biological diversity, capable of displacing native plants, altering natural communities, degrading or eliminating some types of wildlife habitat, and sometimes posing a threat to rare plants. Designated wilderness and other types of natural areas are not immune to NNIP. Few areas in the GWNF though, and none of the six wilderness areas, had been formally surveyed for the presence of NNIP before this project.

We collaborated with the U.S. Forest Service in planning the project, and are very grateful to the National Forest Foundation, the Agua Fund, and an anonymous foundation for funding the work.Some of the project results are described below.Please refer to the Project Report for full details, including maps and tables.

Five NNIP were observed in Ramsey’s Draft.In order of abundance, they are:Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum), coltsfoot (Tussilaga farfara), bush honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), and autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata).

Several other NNIP were observed at one or more of the other areas surveyed – Mountain House, Confederate Breastworks, and Sexton Cabin.They include garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), spotted knapweed (Centaurea biebersteinii), wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius), crown vetch (Coronilla varia), ladysthumb (Polygonum persicaria), and motherwort (Leonorus cardiaca).It is likely that other NNIP occur in the area as well but were not observed during the survey.

The lower (southern) section of Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness, nearest the Mountain House picnic area and US Route 250, was the most heavily impacted area that we surveyed.

We conducted one work day in March of 2011, with tremendous volunteer effort from the Green Team at Mary Baldwin College.A small patch of garlic mustard along Ramsey’s Draft was worked on, manually pulling all the plants seen.Removing plants prior to seed formation is often important in control efforts.

Please educate yourself and others in ways to minimize the impacts of NNIP. And please support Wild Virginia in our efforts to protect the GWNF from threats of all kinds.

Learn More:

A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests

Blue Ridge PRISM

A grassroots membership, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving wild forest ecosystems in Virginia's National Forests through education and advocacy