State Removing Invasive Species On Route 50 Median


BERLIN — Work to clear invasive plant species and potentially hazardous trees from a section of Route 50 is moving at a brisk clip, according to State Highway Administration (SHA) officials, and is part of a larger project to unclutter Maryland’s roads.
“It’s an invasive species project,” said SHA representative Charlie Gischlar. “We’re doing it all across the state.”
Locally, that project covers a seven-mile stretch of Route 50 from Friendship Road to the Wicomico County line. Sections of the median are currently choked with non-native plants that are both an eyesore and possibly dangerous if left unchecked, according to Gischlar.
“Specifically, what we’re dealing with down here on the shore are invasive vines such as Japanese honeysuckle and particularly the mile-a-minute weed … it can literally strangle native plants,” said Gischlar. “The Japanese honeysuckle is the very same way. It’s totally prolific and it displaces the native species of plants.”
Additionally, there are several weak or dead trees roadside that represent potential safety problems such as fallen limbs.
“There are also, on that corridor, trees that we’ve deemed hazardous because they are very close to the highway and they are either dying or dead totally outright,” Gischlar said. “And if a good storm comes you might have one of those trees fall on the road and it becomes a major safety issue.”
Many of those trees are being worsened in condition by the cloying invasive plants, he added. Beyond the risk of fallen limbs, there are issues with sight distance, drainage and simple aesthetics, according to Gischlar. All of this led SHA to begin the project statewide, with the Wicomico and Worcester section starting in April and anticipated to go until early-November. Gischlar confirmed that work is on schedule and crews are about 30-percent done.
While the clearing is being handled mostly during the day, Gischlar said there should be little-to-know interruption to traffic flow at any time. The total cost of the project is $950,000 and will include the SHA’s next stop, a 12-mile stretch on Route 13 in Worcester heading into Somerset County and encompassing the clearing of seven wetland sites. The next phase is expected to start in the spring of 2014.
The SHA’s efforts have been recognized with a Federal Highway Administration Environmental Excellence Award for 2013.
“This is going to enable native plants in the region to thrive naturally and flourish,” said Gischlar.

One thought on “State Removing Invasive Species On Route 50 Median

  1. Date: Sept. 6, 2013
    From: Center for Plant Conservation
    To: Maryland Coastal Dispatch
    Subject: Commendation for coverage of invasive species

    I’m writing to commend Travis Brown and the Maryland Coastal Dispatch for your article “State removing invasive species on Route 50 median,” published Aug. 15, 2013, highlighting the threat of invasive species.

    Your coverage educating and informing people of the dangers of exotic invasive species is welcome in the battle to control and eradicate these non-native threats. Not all non-native plants become invasive, but the rapid proliferation of invasive non-native plants in our wildlands can have a devastating effect. Even though some invasives may look beautiful to the eye, if unchecked they present a real threat to wild species diversity and degrade many natural areas. Invasive species are the No. 2 cause of plant endangerment in the U.S., forcing native species to the edge of extinction, and they also cost millions of dollars in damage to agriculture and infrastructure.

    The Center for Plant Conservation has developed information about invasive species, including resources, contacts, and proactive measures that will help prevent the introduction of new invasive plants. We invite your readers to visit our website for additional helpful information.

    Best regards,

    Kathryn Kennedy, Ph.D.
    President and Executive Director
    Center for Plant Conservation

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