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Lone Patuxent Refuge weed warrior looks for fellow pulling partners this Saturday

Photo: USDA

Elsie Holler has been pulling the invasive plants out of the North Tract of the Patuxent Research Refuge in the Anne Arundel County section of Laurel for a few months now. Month by month, weed by weed, she has made a difference in fighting the invasive species which threaten our ecosystem. But she needs help.

Oriental bittersweet and a few other unwelcome invaders are her enemies on the battlefield. By out-competing Maryland native plants these invasives leave much less for Patuxent animals and insects to feed on and use as habitat. The foreign occupiers have a longer growing season and grow faster than their Maryland counterparts. They're a real threat.

Where Maryland native plants have evolved to supply local animals with food, the invasives are often inedible and useless to our neighboring wildlife. The invasive species scourge is a lose. lose scenario for the environment.

But that hasn't stopped Holler from fighting the good fight. She pulls on her weed-pulling gloves once a month at the North Tract, sometimes with a few volunteers, but often lately as the last weed warrior left standing.

As mentioned, she needs help. She said sometimes when she's done after a few hours of work, she wonders if she's making a difference by herself. The substitute teacher-turned-volunteer has noticed the magic of the synergy that can happen when even a handful of weed warriors gather. Larger swaths of the invasive weeds can get pulled, and morale among the warriors can rise. Often even a competitive spirit can arise between warriors. Who can pull the most?

Instead of a turkey trot, or holiday decorating binge this weekend you may want to consider joining Elsie for a while this weekend to combat one of the biggest threats to our local environment. She'll give you hands on instruction in identifying the enemy plants.

The event is taking places at the North Tract of Patuxent Research Refuge from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 20. All ages are welcome. Bring your own gloves, boots and tools if you can because a limited supply of tools is available.

Registration is required. Call the refuge at 301-497-5887 to sign up and join the battle!

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