Kirkwood Park got a haircut last week, and other neighborhood parks have received similar treatment or will in the future.

Kirkwood Park, which is between Liberty Drive and Brookside Drive, had the area along the creek that runs through the middle of the park cleared of brush.  Since the brush had been growing for years, it was a considerable undertaking and some residents expressed concerned about the purpose.

According to an email from the city, the “Parks and Recreation operations staff performed an invasive plant removal at Kirkwood Park on Thursday, Jan. 26.  The work was performed under the guidance and supervision of our Botanical Gardens Superintendent.”

The email also states, “Invasive plants aggressively out-compete native plants, reducing the biodiversity of the areas they inhabit.”

The city’s “Invasive Plant Policy” states, “These are plants that are harmful or threatening to our parks, gardens, open spaces, natural areas and greenways. Invasive plants spread into disturbed areas, riparian buffers and natural areas. They can damage forests, shade out shrubs and wildflowers, reduce food and habitat for wildlife, compete and replace rare and endangered species, and interfere with outdoor recreation by crowding out the diverse and healthy mix of plants and wildlife that we want to preserve.”

The species removed included Chinese privet and Japanese privet, Mahonia, rose of Sharon, multiflora rose, Mimosa and some “very large vines.”

Some other broadleaf evergreens that are considered invasive species by the US Department of Agriculture, NC Forest Service and NC Invasive Plant Council were also removed.

The plant removal was done by hand with plants removed to the ground level leaving the root systems intact.

The report states, “Once the foliage returns and underbrush begins to grow again in the spring, staff indicates that the area should quickly regain low cover while retaining overhead shading from the remaining deciduous trees.”

This clearing is in keeping with the Parks and Recreation Department’s Plan2Play comprehensive plan to move towards more natural and ecologically friendly parks system.