Tuesday, February 28, 2006

D.C. PARKS: Slowly Strangled By Vines

FOR LONG-TIME READERS of my D.C. blogging, you know that I like hiking and exploring the various trails that make their way through the National Park Service greenbelts and parkland that scour the District's Northwest quadrant. A visitor once remarked that for the District of Columbia -- the capital of the most powerful country in the world -- we lack nice traditional parks, like you might see in any European capital, or Chicago, New York or San Francisco. Sure, we have the National Mall, but for the most part, our parks are essentially forest preserves that are left alone to their own devices. (Rock Creek Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted as a nature reserve, the anti-Central Park.) The cash-strapped National Parks Service can do little but do basic maintenance for D.C.'s green spaces. (It took many, many months for trees to be cleared from Glover Archbold Park and connecting greenbelts following Tropical Storm Isabel in 2003. To this day, trees weakened by the storm, or by vines, crash to the ground in the parks.)

SO I GIVE YOU THE ABOVE IMAGE. It was taken last Friday, on the Rock Creek trail connecting Montrose Park/Dumbarton Oaks Park to Woodley Park (just below the Italian Embassy). So much of the parkland in Northwest Washington, and I would imagine in the city's Northeast and Southeast quadrants, is being slowly strangled by vines. Sure, this all might be part of the natural birth-death cycle of forest land, but someone told me that the particular vines eating D.C.'s forests are envasive species, just like the northern snakehead. (Can anyone confirm?)

THE WASH CYCLE, a D.C.-centric bicycle blog, notes that part of the Capital Crescent Trail in the Palisades is having some trouble: It's being slowly undermined, eroded and could give way during a major rain event. If I'm thinking of the same section of the CCT (near Newark Street and my great aunt's house), this is a section of trail near a vine-infested section of the ridge above Canal Road and below Potomac Avenue. More on the CCT troubles here.


At 9:45 PM, Blogger Flop said...

I'd bet a crisp fiver the vines are kudzu. That stuff is tenacious and grows at warp speed. It's all over the South, which D.C. kind of is, climate-wise.

Although no one cares, Cleveland's (non-beach) parks tend toward the forest preserve as well. Not that this should make Washingtonians feel better. We do, however, have a bitchin' toboggan run in one of said parks.

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