In recognition of the 52nd Annual Earth Day, two local environmental groups — the East Ozarks Audubon Society and Southeast Missouri Wild Ones — are joining together to host a fun and informative public workshop on how to remove invasive honeysuckle.
The workshop will be held starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 23 at the Crouch Nature Sanctuary in Farmington’s Engler Park. The free event is open to adults and children. Participants are asked to bring a lawn chair and meet at the butterfly garden that is located adjacent to the first parking lot to the right upon entering the park. In the event of rain, the workshop will be moved to the large pavilion behind the playground.
A bring-your-own picnic gathering will be held around noon at the workshop’s conclusion. The Audubon group will begin weeding and mulching work at the butterfly garden starting at 8 a.m. should anyone want to come early and help out. Wear gloves and it would be useful to bring garden pruners/scissors, and/or trowels.
“The workshop will provide information about how to identify honeysuckle and the various means of removal depending on the severity of the problem,” said Ann Blanchfield with the East Ozarks Audubon Society. Following the presentation, those wishing to learn more can participate in a “hands on” demonstration. Those taking part in the demonstration should wear gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt to guard against ticks and brambles. Bring garden shears and loppers, if you have them.
“Bush honeysuckle has been a problem at Engler Park since its opening in the early 2000s. The plant may look like a lovely spring bloomer but it is invasive and can take over large wooded areas with its thick shrubs. The dense thickets crowd out Missouri’s native forest plants and have detrimental effects on wildlife. That includes birds. The honeysuckle berries are not very nutritious and the rampant growth displaces plants that are more bird friendly. Even flying becomes difficult because of the dense vegetation.”
The Crouch Sanctuary at Engler Park is managed by the East Ozarks Audubon Society and offers three attractions to visitors — a large woodland area with a trail through the center; a blind for viewing birds at a feeding station, and a butterfly garden.
“Our Audubon group first unsuccessfully attempted to remove the invasive honeysuckle by burning, but in 2018 we started the more labor-intensive job of cutting out the shrubs and using a small spot application of herbicide to prevent regrowth,” Blanchfield said. “Additional help has come from community members of all ages who have come out for ‘Honeysuckle Slaughter’ days and from the Missouri Department of Conservation which has organized several efforts.
“Both Wild Ones and Audubon share similar goals when it comes to landscaping. Wild Ones’ motto is, ‘Healing the Earth one yard at a time.’ The Southeast Missouri Wild Ones was formed in 2018, and meets most months at members’ properties or public sites to share information about native plants and the wildlife that depends on them.”
East Ozarks Audubon Society’s motto is “We’re not just for the birds” to reflect their wide interest in conservation and wildlife; they meet on the third Tuesday of odd months at the Farmington Library. National Audubon, of which East Ozarks Audubon is a member, seeks to help birds and the places they need to survive, and towards that goal has for years been encouraging planting native species.
What is Earth Day?
Earth Day is an annual event held in April to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First held on April 22, 1970, it now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by EarthDay.org. This year’s theme is Invest in Our Planet.
The concept of Earth Day began in 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco when peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace. He suggested it first be observed on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations.
A month later, U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson proposed the idea to hold a nationwide environmental teach-in on April 22, 1970. He hired a young activist, Denis Hayes, to serve as the national coordinator. Nelson and Hayes renamed the event “Earth Day.”
Denis and his staff grew the event beyond the original idea for a teach-in to include the entire United States. More than 20 million people poured out on the streets, and the first Earth Day remains the largest single-day protest in human history. The first Earth Day was focused on the United States, but in 1990, Hayes took the concept international and organized events in 141 nations.
On Earth Day 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement was signed by the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and 120 other countries. This signing satisfied a key requirement for the entry into force of the historic draft climate protection treaty adopted by consensus of the 195 nations present at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.
On Earth Day 2020, over 100 million people around the world observed the 50th anniversary in what is being referred to as the largest online mass mobilization in history. The national theme for Earth Day 2022 is Invest in our Planet — planting natives and removing invasive exotics is a great way to invest in restoring the balance of nature on which all living things depend. East Ozarks Audubon and Southeast Missouri Wild Ones are eager to help people act locally and think globally.
For more information about the event, contact Ann Blanchfield with the East Ozarks Audubon Society by phone at 573-705-8880 or email at email@example.com or Linda Bennett with Southeast Missouri Wild Ones by phone at 573-546-0707 or email at wBennettt301@sbcglobal.net.
Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-783-9667 or firstname.lastname@example.org