Invasive weeds need to be stopped

Planting along Miami River will help restore natural habitat

Dear Editor,The Miami River Greenway in Harrison Hot Springs provides a healthy environment for both people and wildlife.  Behind newer properties along the Miami River from the 200 to the 400- block is a riparian strip held in covenant by the Village.  Recent trail work by the Village crew has made the Miami River greenway trail continuous from McCombs to Hot Springs Road. This greenway trail is part of the official community plan and is being improved through the “Miami Creek Water Quality Improvement and Environmental Damages Restoration Initiative”. The Village matches grant monies from Environment Canada and the Miami River Streamkeepers group give inkind support.  Riparian restoration increases this habitat for small mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.  It also results in better fish habitat.   Native vegetation improves the water quality by providing shade, reducing runoff of and allowing percolation to occur.  The riparian strip is the health and biodiversity of the greenway.Invasive weeds, green waste and plastic debris however, threaten the greenways’ riparian area. The Miami River Streamkeepers hold a weekly work party targeting both invasive plants and garbage. Invasive plant and plastic debris removal is crucial to restoration. Homeowners can help by keeping garden items within their property line.Lamia or silver nettle vine, an invasive used by gardeners for quick ground cover, is aptly named after a Greek child-eating daemon. Left unchecked it destroys all native ground cover in short order.  Other invasives to keep out of the riparian are English ivy, Japanese knotweed and English holly. If you have any of these plants in your garden stop them at your property line.Having a few dead trees is normal and healthy. Dead trees pr ovide habitat for many kinds of wildlife, and as they decay, gradually return nutrients to the soil.   Fallen branches make great brush piles to shelter wildlife. The Village crew has created several along the greenway.  Many common back yard birds – juncos, song sparrows, towhees and white-crowned sparrows- are ground nesters.  They all depend on shrub cover and brush piles for survival.Cats – well fed or feral- are major predators of birds.  Encourage your cat to stay indoors. When outside keep it out of the riparian areaTrail users can provide stewardship through good practice. Stay on the trail at all times.  Off trail activity compacts soil, destroys shrub cover and increases access by domestic animals.  Keep your dog on leash.The Miami River Streamkeepers and Village of Harrison Hot Springs invite the public to join in a public planting on March 3 at 10 a.m. Meet at the Fred Hardy Bridge located between the 200 and 300-block Miami River Drive at 10 a.m..  Coffee, cookies and juice will be available.  Tools are provided.  Wear gloves, boots and dress for the weather. Restoration of the native plant cover is key to continued enjoyment of the Miami River Greenway. Janne Perrin On behalf of the Miami River Streamkeepers