Saturday, October 14, 2017

Paugussett Bypass at Wiacek

We met on a surprisingly muggy Saturday to finish clearing along the Paugussett Bypass at the Wiacek Open Space.  The Bypass had been cleared as earlier work parties and an Eagle Scout project earlier in the year, but like everywhere else had grown back, especially at the powerline crossing.  One of the goals was to clear enough to see if we could get the DR Mower thru for maintenance mowing.

Starting at Constitution Blvd. N. we dove into the barberry thickets cleared by the scouts.  Val, Jim, and Paul cut, whittled, and dug out various saplings, shoots and clumps to make the trail and tread more passable.

One of the challenges is the thick barberry grows in clumps, and the sections that stuck up were tripping hazards.  So we tried using the Pullerbear weed wrench to remove the clumps.

The weed wrench is a heavy steel bar with a jaw and fulcrum welded at the bottom.  In theory, you clamp the jaws on the stem of what you want to pull out and then push down on the handle.  In this case, because the barberry was cut low it was tough to get a good bite with the jaws without tearing the root ball up.  Progress was slow.

After pulling most of the roots out we tried burning the rest with a weed torch.

Careful not to let the fire spread to the leaves, the torch seemed to work well.  Most invasive species require multiple treatments, and barberry is susceptible to burning.  Should bring a fire extinguisher or water bucket next time, don't want to start any California-scale brush fires.

Above is a section of the trail after pulling and burning.  It's slow progress.  Need to have teams of 2-3 people digging, pulling and burning next time.  If we can get one person to loosen the root clump with a mattock, the another to rip it out with the Pullerbear, then somebody to burn the remaining roots, I think it would be more productive.

But we got out and made some progress.  Thanks to Paul, Val, Jim & Terry for helping out.  And thanks to Royal Bakery for the great doughnuts; a weekend special.

The next work party is at Lane Street in a week or so - check the work party page for further details.  Come out and enjoy the Hawley Meadow along Means Brook in Huntington Center.

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