Pollinator Project  Leverages Plastic

Pollinator Project Leverages Plastic

Yards and yards of used plastic on the Harmony Trail

People who use the Harmony Trail in Wexford know it to be a beautiful trail; wide and flat.  Earlier this year, Columbia Gas donated 16 pounds of wildflower seeds which were planted by 20 volunteers.  We are just now seeing some of the impact of that event.  You should go out and take a look.

Recently, RCTC started a multi-year project with the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania (ASWP) to improve habitat for Monarchs, bumblebees and other pollinators.  The Harmony Trail is on one of the targeted rights of way.

Our earlier project with the wildflower seed taught us that making room for the new plants was a significant problem.  We do not feel that using herbicide is appropriate.  Turning over the soil can result in waking up dormant seed from the plants we are trying to replace.  This seed is likely to out compete the new seed we are planting.  Additionally disturbed soil is an inviting home for a number of the invasive plants we do not want.

This is where the plastic comes in.  We received a donation of used plastic banners from LAMAR advertising in Greentree.  Last Saturday people from RCTC and ASWP mowed places on the trail and stapled down plastic banners to initiate a process called solarization.  The plastic will be left in place through the summer and fall.  It should kill the existing vegetation and potentially trap enough heat to kill some of the dormant seed.  After the first frost it will be lifted.  The soil will be roughed up and wildflower seeds will be planted.  These seeds will do what nature designed them to do.  They will, within a year or two, give us a new crop of vegetation that will provide healthy support for pollinators.

A sign was added to each site where plastic was used to inform people of the purpose of the plastic.

Volunteers will put down additional plastic on Friday, July 23.  They are meeting in the Route 910 parking lot at 9:30. a.m.  Your help will be appreciated.

If you are interested in joining other volunteers in improving our trails contact Bob Mulshine (bobmulshine@hotmail.com) or Donna Stolz (dstolz@pitt.edu ).