In celebration of Earth Day and the ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award winners, the U.S. EPA held a volunteer day for participating companies on Tuesday April 21, 2015. Along with about 15 fellow volunteers, we arrived at the historic Dumbarton Oaks Park located in the Georgetown neighborhood of northwest D.C. The park covers 27-acres and has a “woodland garden” feel that makes you forget you are in the middle of such a large metropolitan city!!

Dumbarton Oaks Park: Rock Creek
Dumbarton Oaks Park: Rock Creek

We met with one of the representatives from the Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy who gave us on overview of the park’s history and the current conservation measures in place. Some of the conservation efforts in place included:

  • Soil stabilization to protect against erosion for stormwater runoff
  • Stonework repair on bridges, pathways, stairways, structures, and seating areas
  • Restoration of the plant community to prevent invasive plant species and integrate more native trees, shrubs, and ground covering plants
  • Fencing surrounding various “environmentally sensitive” areas that were undergoing re-establishment of native plants

We rolled up our sleeves to remove the invasive, non-native plants from several areas within the park. Some volunteers ventured into an area with a jungle of vines and poison ivy, while others (including myself who had to catch a flight within a couple of hours!) chose to stick along one of the meadows and remove invasive plants.

Why remove non-native, invasive plants in the first place?
When non-native, invasive plants are introduced into an area (intentionally or accidentally) they can degrade the natural ecosystem by competing with native plants for natural resources such as: soil, water, light, space, and nutrients. In the case of Dumbarton Oaks Park, removing non-native, invasive plant species and replacing them with native ground covering plants helps to prevent soil erosion from stormwater runoff and maintain a healthy ecosystem.

Click here to learn more about the Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy!