Much of the Hominy Creek Greenway property’s vegetative community is dominated by non-native invasive species (NNIS). Species such as multiflora rose, Chinese privet, Japanese knotweed, English ivy and many others have outcompeted native species, taking over much of the herbaceous and shrub layers and threatening native tree health via climbing vines. A vegetative community dominated by NNIS greatly reduces ecological value and threatens the abundance and diversity of native pollinators and wildlife.
In an effort to combat the Greenway’s NNIS problem and begin restoring a native plant community, the Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway (FOHCG) Board of Trustees is working with EcoForesters (EF), a local non-profit professional forestry organization, to chemically treat NNIS on a large scale. While FOHCG board members and volunteers have worked for years to keep NNIS at bay, hand-pulling and cutting can only go so far in addressing such a large-scale issue. By incorporating chemical treatment via foliar spray, cut stump, and other techniques, FOHCG and EF can effectively treat vast portions of the greenway that would not be feasible or have such lasting results otherwise.
The current focal area of the Greenway for native reforestation is at the Sand Hill Road end of the trail – both the trailside portions leading from the trailhead to just past the picnic tables and the portion on the other side of Buttermilk Creek. These areas were bush hogged in late summer of 2023 and chemically treated by EF and FOHCG in early September. Additional treatment may take place prior to the dormant season of late October. The next step is to replant the treated areas with native vegetation. Native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous species will be planted in the fall of 2023 and/or the spring of 2024. Expertise on topics such as species selection, planting density, and follow-up management will be provided by community volunteer members with professional background in native plant composition and care. Plants will be sourced from Greenworks and other local nurseries and growers.
As the project progresses, the aim to is to also address Buttermilk Creek. In its current state, the creek is extremely downcut and the stream banks are severely eroded and even undercut in certain locations. These conditions contribute to sedimentation in downstream waters (Hominy Creek and the French Broad River), a detriment to water quality, and result in unstable and treacherous stream-side terrain. To address these issues, FOHCG will work with EF to treat NNIS growing in and adjacent to the stream and with Wildlands Engineering to regrade the stream banks to restore a level of stability to the system by reducing erosive forces of high velocity flows. Once NNIS and stream bank grading have occurred, native riparian vegetation will be planted to increase bank stability, reduce erosion during high flow events, and improve the overall stream and stream-side habitat quality.
By restoring native vegetation and improving stream habitat and water quality, native pollinators and other wildlife species will benefit. Monarch butterflies, migratory birds, rare freshwater mussels, imperiled bats, and many other taxa inhabit the greater areas of the Greenway, Hominy Creek, and the French Broad River downstream. With the ever-increasing threats to wildlife from habitat loss and degradation, opportunities to restore habitat play an important role in ensuring that species have access to the resources needed for supporting their life stages.
FOHCG is excited to be embarking on these ecological restoration efforts – a chance to greatly improve the biological integrity to a beloved area for the benefit of community members and native flora and fauna alike. The support of partners, donors, and volunteer members makes this undertaking possible!