Tryon residents gathered Saturday, March 1 to clear exotic species from one of the gateways of downtown Tryon (photo submitted).
Tryon residents gathered Saturday, March 1 to clear exotic species from one of the gateways of downtown Tryon (photo submitted).

Crew spruces up portion of downtown Tryon

Published 9:30pm Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A crew of 20 energetic volunteers gathered Saturday, March 1 in downtown Tryon to rid one of the town’s entrances of invasive plants that they felt had become an eyesore.
“The area is a key entrance to Tryon and looks much better. It shows what a small group can do in a pretty short time”, said Polk County Extension Director John Vining, who managed the project.
Working for about three hours, the group removed invasive vegetation such as Tree of Heaven, Privet and grape vines from the side of the road across the street from Side Street Pizza. This strip includes the area from Street to the former gas station being remodeled on Hwy. 176 by Bob Lane.
The group also collected several large bags of litter and recyclable cans and bottles. A large fallen pine tree was also removed from the hillside.
Tryon Mayor Jim Wright and other volunteers said the appearance of the town matters and that’s why they offered their time.
“I think it is important – there is a tie-in between invasive species and looking like we care as a town,” Wright said. “The entrances to our town from all directions have various forms of invasive species. My concept for several years is if you don’t take care of that, if you don’t clean up your town, then why would they want to shop here, why would they want to live here.”
Ninety-percent of what covered the area was Tree of Heaven, which Vining said has no    value and isn’t even very attractive.
“Anytime you can get rid of an exotic species, it is a good thing because they push out the native flora because they are so aggressive and they just take over.”
The group left native species such as native dogwood and redwood that would be much more attractive when allowed to grow and bloom, Vining said.
“Our objective is we want to improve the drive into town and get rid of as much of the Tree of Heaven as we can,” Vining said.
Vining said the group also applied a stump treatment to either kill or dwarf the growth of the tree so that it would not come back. He said this would hopefully prevent the exotic species from returning.
Wright said a group got together years ago and jokingly called themselves the “Gillette Woods Irregulars.” He said they got together to hold workdays to clean up parts of the neighborhood. Wright said he hopes a similar group will grow for the entirety of town. “Number one I don’t think the town can afford it from a budget standpoint and number two I think it is really important to involve people,” Wright said. “It shows what people can do when they put together a concerted effort.”
Vining said he plans to schedule other workdays throughout the spring.
Participants in this effort included Mary Parker, Barney Eiserloh, Happy McCloud, Margaret Freeman, Linda Haynes, Kathy Wright, Bill Crowell, Warren Board, Dan Haight, Dean Kimbrell, Paul McMinn, Jim Scott, Ethan Thompson, Jeff Byrd, Henry Freeman, John Vining, Andy Haynes, Crys Armbrust and Jim Wright.

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