Join the bittersweet battle on the Cheoah River

Kudzu isn’t the only aggressive, nonnative, invasive plant threatening native North Carolina species: Oriental bittersweet, privet and multiflora rose are just a few exotic invasives targeted by the Southern Appalachian Cooperative Weed Management Partnership, a coalition of organizations that include the Western North Carolina Alliance, the U.S. Forest Service, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and others. On Friday, July 24, and Saturday, July 25, the partnership project is inviting volunteers to help clear invasives along a section of the Cheoah River near Robbinsville.

Bittersweet and the like are overtaking Virginia spiraea, a member of the rose family that’s native to Western North Carolina but on the federal list of threatened plants. As part of an early-detection, rapid-response approach, volunteers will manually and chemically control small, scattered infestations of invasives while protecting native species such as Virginia spiraea. The project begins with a brief plant-identification session, a discussion about the impacts of invasive exotic plants, and a demonstration of different management techniques. Then volunteers will get to work along the Cheoah River.

All tools and equipment will be provided, but volunteers should bring a lunch and water, a hat, hiking boots with socks, and a long sleeve shirt. Carpooling from Asheville can be arranged, with pick up at 8 a.m. and drop-off at 5 p.m. each day. If you’d like to volunteer, contact the Alliance by Thursday, July 23.

For Friday, contact Alliance ecologist Bob Gale at 258-8737 ( For Saturday, contact Lindsay Major of Equinox Environmental at 253-6856, ext. 206, or

The next volunteer opportunity is scheduled for August 28-29.
— M.V.W.

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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