Honeysuckle Sweep for Healthy Habitat March 5-13

By Marsha Gebhardt
President, St. Louis Wild Ones

White and orange flowers on bush honeysuckle

Bush honeysuckle in bloom

St. Louis Wild Ones is listed as a partner in the upcoming, first ever, Honeysuckle Sweep for Healthy Habitat. We encourage our membership and followers to participate in one or more of the planned bush honeysuckle removal projects between March 5 and March 13. These events will be learning opportunities, and will make you feel good about your contribution to our region’s native landscapes.

For a great overview and how to get involved, read the following article by Besa Schweitzer, which will be published in the Native Plant School newsletter on March 1st. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to sign up for this excellent newsletter by emailing Besa Schweitzer (besa.schweitzer@mobot.org). Here’s an example: The News from Native Plant School February 2016

Honeysuckle removal events are listed after the article below. Note that additional sites may be added. Be sure to check the Missouri Botanical Garden’s website for the most up-to-date information and to register.

Students cutting a large honeysuckle bush

A big one: Removing honeysuckle

Wherever you participate, please make efforts to connect with others. You can learn from them, learn about other organizations, and invite them to visit our Wild Ones website and join us at our monthly Wild Ones Gatherings. This is another great example of the strengthening and coalescing of the native landscape movement in the St. Louis region.

Honeysuckle Sweep
By Besa Schweitzer

The second week of March this year there is a new event in town. It is called the Honeysuckle Sweep for Healthy Habitat.

In an effort to energize the greater St. Louis region around improving habitat for our native plants and animals, area conservation organizations join together to spotlight invasive bush honeysuckle and the need to remove it so that large swaths of land can become productive areas for native habitat, recreation and enjoyment. To that end, organizations will host public events and volunteer removal days during the first ever Honeysuckle Sweep Week.

The idea is based on Missouri’s very successful operation clean stream, a yearly river cleanup event that has been going on for 48 years and involves over 2,000 volunteers. Operation Clean Stream introduces Missourians to a day of floating on a beautiful river while picking up trash and for many is a day to remember.  Children enjoy hunting for beer cans in the rocks. Adults brag about how many tires they have pulled out of a stream bank and fit into their canoe.  Once someone learns the value of picking up trash out of our streams they make a habit of picking up trash wherever they go.

Wild Ones removing invasive honeysuckle bushes in Forest Park

Wild Ones removing honeysuckle

Honeysuckle Sweep brings the same hope of public education and responsibility.  Many people do not know what a honeysuckle bush is or why it is a problem.  Educating the public with this focused event will help bring the problem to the front of our minds.  Once people spend a day removing honeysuckle in their neighborhood park they will learn how to identify it and see that it also lives in their backyard. As we see invasive shrubs during our daily lives we should do something about it by removing them.  Gradually we will get the problem under control with a lot of help from our friends.

Although honeysuckle can be found in almost all public spaces, it is possible to imagine a different future. The task may be daunting, but can be achieved with a concerted effort from the community. Back in 1967 the rivers of Missouri were filled with trash.  Any river was a convenient place to dump whatever you didn’t want, even old cars.  The amount of trash was so overwhelming it was hard to enjoy a float trip. Today our rivers are clean and the public values them as beautiful places for recreation, not trash cans.

Come to the Honeysuckle Sweep. Let’s make honeysuckle-choked parks a thing of the past that is unacceptable in the public eye. We are going to educate the public to remove honeysuckle where they see it. Help us make the Honeysuckle Sweep for Healthy Habitat an enduring and successful event this March.

For more information and to register:
Missouri Botanical Garden (MoBot)

Note:  Additional locations may be added and/or schedule changes may occur to the honeysuckle removal sites and dates listed below. Please click on the above MoBot link for the most current event listing.

March 5, 9 a.m.—noon
Deer Creek Park

March 6, 11 a.m.–2 p.m
Emmenegger Nature Park

March 8, 9 a.m.—12:00 p.m.
Creve Coeur Park

March 9, 9 a.m.—12:00 p.m
Forest Park

March 10, 9 a.m.—noon
Shaw Nature Reserve

March 12, 9 a.m.—noon
Paul A. Schroeder Park

March 12, 10 a.m.—3:00 p.m
The College School Campus at LaBarque Creek

March 13, 9 a.m.—noon
Kirkwood Park

March 13, 1:00—4:00 p.m
Lemay Park