SOLF looking for volunteers to help identify invasive species

Springtime leaves of the invasive burning bush

We’ve all seen the red berries of Oriental bittersweet, and perhaps have a burning bush or two in our yards (guilty!). Both are invasive species in this area that have been around for a while. As invasives go, they’re known enemies, but new, as-of-yet unknown enemies are cropping up all the time.

To help combat the damage invasive species can do to native ecosystems, the Southborough Open Land Foundation wants to train volunteers to help identify new invasive species in our town. The training is free, and includes both classroom and field work. Here are more details from SOLF:

The Southborough Open Land Foundation (SOLF) is working with the New England Wildflower Society to address invasive species in Southborough and promote native plant conservation.

Many Southborough Residents are familiar with the invasive vine Oriental Bittersweet that engulfed the old apple orchard at the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land. The town has worked for years to eradicate the bittersweet and restore native plant populations to the conservation land.

SOLF is also working to remove invasive species on the lands they own. Oriental Bittersweet is just one of many invasive species that threaten our native plants and wildlife habitat. Unfortunately there are new invasives headed our way that may pose even greater threats to our native ecosystems.

The goal of the New England Wildflower Society’s (NEWFS) project is to locate, document and eradicate new invasive species before they get established in the region. The code name for the project is “Early Detection Rapid Response” (EDRR).  To kick off the project NEWFS is holding 4 workshops to train volunteers from all 36 towns in the Sudbury Assabet and Concord Rivers Watershed (SuAsCo) Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA).

SOLF is hosting one of the NEWFS workshops on May 15 at the Southborough Fire Station. The training sessions run from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, and includes a PowerPoint presentation on the early detection species with a discussion of their identification, habitats, impacts, and control.  The rest of the morning includes a discussion of survey and documentation methods, use of GPS, and how/where to report findings.  The afternoon training is primarily in the field, doing practice surveys and documentation.

Participants will come from throughout the 36 SuAsCo Watershed towns, and SOLF is hoping for a strong attendance of Southborough residents who will then help us document and control the invasives here in town.

Four training dates have been set. Volunteers can choose any one of the sessions. If you can’t make the May 15 date in Southborough you can attend another training session and still perform fieldwork in Southborough.

  • Saturday, May 15 – Southborough Fire Station, 21 Main Street Southborough
  • Saturday, May 22 – Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, 73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury
  • Sunday, May 23 – Bedford Town Hall, 10 Mudge Way, Bedford
  • Saturday June 5 – Bolton Town Library, 738 Main Street, Bolton

SOLF’s Participation in the project is funded from a generous grant from The Foundation for MetroWest. Southborough residents that would like to attend or want more information are encouraged to contact SOLF’s Stewardship Coordinator Freddie Gillespie at

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