On Saturday, November 5, 82 volunteers alongside 33 Forest Park Forever staff members spent the morning clearing away invasive bush honeysuckle from the John F. Kennedy Memorial Forest. This was the 18th annual Honeysuckle Removal event in Forest Park, an important yearly event where community members come out to support the Park by actively working to improve it.
A section of Kennedy Forest before, during and after honeysuckle removal. Click the images to view larger.
Kennedy Forest is comprised of 60 acres of mature forested habitat in Forest Park's southwest corner. Kennedy Forest is part of the Park's Nature Reserve system — natural areas throughout the Park that have been set aside for conservation. During this year's event, our volunteers were able to clear roughly 7 acres of honeysuckle along with other invasive species including white mulberry, paper mulberry and European buckthorn.
The area that was cleared is a favorite among many Park visitors for the beautiful half-mile boardwalk loop trail that runs through it. The trail offers some of the best views of forest wildflowers in the Park — but native species such as trout lily, wild geranium, trillium and false solomon seal were facing increased competition and a chemically altered soil from non-native species. The hard work of our volunteers has provided considerable help in moving the restoration of this area forward.
Our Nature Reserve team will continue this effort throughout the winter, removing wintercreeper, an invasive vine that blankets the forest floors, and putting down a native seed mix in certain sections of the forest to help boost the ground vegetation and enhance wildlife habitat. Sections now clear of bush honeysuckle will also receive additional oak and flowering dogwood plantings to facilitate regeneration of these important native forest species.