The projects highlighted below were funded through previous years of DISC’s Small Grants program. For more information, please check out the Funding Opportunities page under the Resources tab for current and future funding opportunities.
Delaware Wild Lands – Tree of Heaven Eradication
The goal of this project was to eradicate satellite populations of Tree-of-Heaven (TOH) distributed throughout 6,000 acres owned and managed by Delaware Wild Lands (DWL) in southern New Castle County (NCC), Delaware in order to protect forest ecosystems from this widely distributed invasive tree species and to reduce the spread and impact of Spotted Lanternfly (SLF), which is rapidly expanding its invasion in the Mid-Atlantic. Project activities included monitoring of DWL’s properties for SLF egg masses and adults, survey off all of DWL’s NCC properties for TOH, and eradication of identified TOH stems using a basal bark treatment.
The project goals were accomplished with the assistance of two DWL interns. Surveys revealed only 2 stands of TOH in our Augustine Creek complex, but one of these was a large stand that had clearly been there for a long time. Between these 2 stands, DWL located 151 individual trees. DWL’s Sharp Tract, however, was the most heavily invaded with TOH. On this 430 ac. property, DWL found 38 stands comprised of 285 trees. Unfortunately, this property is adjacent to Route 1 and Route 13, both of which are infested with TOH in the medians and roadsides near this site, so TOH will likely be an ongoing issue there. Lastly, in Taylors Bridge, DWL located 20 stands totaling 102 trees. A total of 538 trees were chemically treated using a variety of methods, depending on the size of the tree. The biggest obstacle to meeting their project goals was accessibility of the trees when the stems were wrapped with vines or surrounded by briars. Once all TOH was treated, DWL re-visited each of the sites to assess success of our control efforts. DWL will continue monitoring and re-treating new growth or any re-growth. Well-established stands, in particular, will require repeated monitoring and additional treatment, as initial treatments often only reduce the root systems, so multiple treatments are sometimes necessary. They plan to leave treated TOH stems standing, however others should be aware that Ailanthus is very weak wood. They have found that branches and trunks of dead trees often snap off or splint following strong storms or winds. Whether or not this project will keep SLF from invading the lands protected by DWL can’t yet be said; but valuable wildlife habitat was enhanced through the removal of many invasive TOH. DWL will continue to monitor the properties for both Ailanthus and SLF, and SLF sightings will be reported to DDA and TOH will be treated.
City of Newark – Bamboo Removal and Control
In 2018, the Parks Department began a multi-year project to cut down and spray a stand of bamboo within the Christina Valley Stream. The area was approximately 135 feet in length and is located between the Mason-Dixon Trail and the Christina Creek off Timberline Drive.
This project involved initial spray applications followed by the physical cutting and removal of the bamboo stand. Continued maintenance of the project will involve additional spray applications and mowing to keep the new growth under control.
After year 3 of this project, there were only a few single remaining stalks of new bamboo growth. Those remaining spots were spot treated by in-house staff and was anticipated to be the final application of herbicide, reaching full eradication of the stand.
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark (UUFN) – Native Plants Rule! Family Action, Learning and Fun
The UUFN’s project objectives were to engage families and community members in understanding the value of native plants to our Eastern Deciduous Woodland Ecosystems and train them to recognize native and non-native plants, especially those that are aggressively invasive. This
project included the development of educational materials and activities for families and children of all ages as well as “Action Afternoons” after their worship services for families and friends to spend time to improve our woods ecosystem by removing invasives and planting natives.
Unfortunately, due to complications with COVID-19, the UFFN group ran into complications with how they were able to gather in the future. However, due to their creativity and flexibility, the groups efforts were hardly hampered. The UUFN started holding worship services and classes by Zoom. So, like teachers all over, they quickly shifted to online activities to continue our program as much as possible. They had the children take photos of plants in their yards or near where they live and send them in so we could screen share them and try to identify them. The group also utilized funds to map the species contained within their 3.3 acre woods and develop a plan to tackle invasive species issues once it was safe to gather as a group again.
Judge Morris Environmental Stewardship Group (JM ESG) – Non-native Invasive Plant Removal Project
The JM ESG volunteers work to remove invasive plants in the Judge Morris section of White Clay Creek State Park in Newark, DE. The volunteers work every week, year round, weather and hunting permitting. The group has been doing this for three years, working steadily to clear areas by hand
pulling, lopping, and hand sawing. The volunteers supply their own tools. Some of the shrubs being removed (linden viburnum, autumn olive, honeysuckle, burning bush) are of substantial size, taking a
long time to saw down by hand. Utilizing DISC Small Grant Funds, the group was able to hand loppers and a battery operated reciprocating saw to increase the efficiency of their efforts. In 2020 alone, the group had logged over 3,000 hours of volunteer hours! The group was also able to leverage additional funding from other grant sources by utilizing these DISC funds.
Village of Ardentown – Community Based Management Plan for the Spotted Lanternfly
The Village of Ardentown detected Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) infestations in all three Ardens (Arden, Ardentown and Ardencroft) and wanted to develop a management strategy for 2020. By installing and monitoring various styles of physical and chemical traps, the group hoped to determine which were most effective, while also engaging their residents to make this a full
community effort to save their trees and natural lands using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods. These IPM methods also included the scraping and removal of SLF egg masses and the eradication of nonnative host trees such as Ailanthus trees.
Through an extensive education and outreach campaign, the group was able to monitor and track their successes and lessons learned. During the year long grant period, the group managed to scrape over 1,300 SLF egg masses. The group was also able to fine tune their timeline for when may be the best time to treat trap trees in the future. When it came to physical traps, they found that screen traps seemed to be the most effective at trapping SLF, especially on mature trees. They also found tape traps to be effective at trapping large numbers of early nymphs. In the future, they hope to expand the physical trap program and get the traps out earlier, closer to the egg-hatch time. While their efforts were successful, the group realizes there are many factors beyond their control that make it so difficult to control this invasive species, but with some hard work and community engagement efforts can be made to mitigate the issue.