Weed Warriors

Volunteer with the Weed Warriors of Carroll County
If you garden or have a lawn, you probably are already battling weeds. However, many people do not realize that our natural areas also have a severe weed problem. These weeds of natural areas are known as “invasive exotic weeds”– and our county nature centers are infested with them.
An “exotic” weed is one that is not native to this area. Many exotics are perfectly nice plants—such as the vegetables you eat! However, other exotic plants become invasive weeds because they spread rapidly by producing hundreds of seeds, sending out runners, or even changing the soil chemistry. Because these exotics have no native predators, they out-compete the native plants, supplanting them.
Why do we care about losing the native plants? When the native plants disappear, so do the native animals that depend on them. Remember the food chain from science class? Many of our insects can only digest plants that they coevolved with. When those plants disappear, so do the insects. Then the birds, frogs, rabbits, chipmunks, skunks, even black bears that eat the insects have no food. While butterflies can eat nectar from many plants, their caterpillars often can only digest the leaves of specific native plants.
A group of volunteers—“the Weed Warriors”–have come together to combat invasive exotic weeds in Carroll County’s nature centers. The Carroll County Master Gardeners, the Carroll County Forest Conservancy Board, and the Catoctin Group of the Maryland Sierra Club jointly sponsor the Weed Warriors. The Weed Warriors welcome anyone from middle school age up. Students can earn service hour credits for both the training and for helping to remove weeds at the nature centers.
Several times each year, the Weed Warriors hold classes in identifying and removing invasive exotic weeds. The training consists of a one-hour online course you take on your own followed by a two-hour field training session at one of our nature centers. To get on the notification list for upcoming classes, just send an email to ccforestryboard@gmail.com.


Weed Warrior Volunteers