News Release

Oriental Bittersweet Sweep at Bent Creek Starts This Saturday

July 7, 2004

Asheville, NC — Volunteers are needed for an “Oriental Bittersweet Sweep” on the Bent Creek Experimental Forest. The first work day is planned for this Saturday, July 10, 2004.

The Southern Research Station of the USDA Forest Service, with the Asheville Weed Team and the Southern Appalachian Man and Biosphere (SAMAB) Program, are seeking volunteers to help eradicate the invasive plant on part of the Experimental Forest while learning about invasive plants and control methods.

A total of 7 Oriental bittersweet sweeps on the Experimental Forest are planned. Please help on any of the following dates for any length of time. Coordinators will be working from 8:00 a.m. to around 1:00 p.m. Lunch and beverages are provided.

Saturday, July 10 Tuesday, August 3
Thursday, July 15 Saturday, August 14
Monday, July 19  
Saturday, August 31  

No experience is necessary. Training and guidance will be provided. Contact Andy Brown at 828-253-6856 or by at least 2 days before work days so that we can arrange for plenty of equipment, and more importantly, lunches.

Please wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and boots. Meet at the Boyd Branch gate on the Bent Creek Experimental Forest. (Take Pole Creasman Road, off of HWY 191 to Bent Creek Ranch Road. Bent Creek Ranch Road runs into Wesley Branch Road. Take a right onto Wesley Branch Road and go 3.3 Miles to Boyd Branch Road. Boyd Branch will be on your right and the parking area will be on your left.)


Decades of research on sustainable forestry at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest are now being threatened by invasions of oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus). An aggressive woody vine that grows on all kinds of sites, oriental bittersweet is shade-tolerant (grows under a forest canopy), and grows rapidly if given more sunlight. Pulling up the plants has not proven very effective since root fragments left in the ground will resprout. Read about SRS research on oriental bittersweet.

The recommended herbicide treatment involves spraying the leaves with a 2 to 4% solution of glyphosate (Roundup™) or trichlopyr (Garlon™). For larger vines, cutting them about 2 inches from the ground and immediately treating the stump with a 25% solution of glyphosate or trichlopyr has been effective. Multiple treatments may be necessary.

The Bent Creek Bittersweet Sweep will involve hand-pulling and bagging plants near streams. Away from streams, treatment will involve foliar (leaf) spraying with trichlopyr and some stump treatment with trichlopyr.

Before the sweep starts, volunteers will be trained to identify bittersweet and other prominent pest plants. Certified herbicide specialists will provide training on herbicide application and safety. Equipment provided includes waterproof gloves, backpack sprayers, safety glasses, hard hats, washing materials, and trash bags. There will be supervision during the plant control effort.

Forest Service Employees: If you are thinking about volunteering on one of the week days, check with your supervisor first. Volunteer efforts are subject to the following regulations:

1832.12 - Federal Employee Volunteers

Federal employees who are exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act may serve as volunteers. However, the authority of the volunteers in the National Forests Act may not be used to authorize a Federal employee's participation in any off-duty function or extracurricular event in which that employee might normally participate without reference to the Act. Neither may the participation of a Federal employee in a volunteer activity preclude the participation of a qualified applicant from the general public. Participation by Federal employees must always be clearly voluntary.

Employees who are not exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act also may volunteer when the Forest Service has not asked the employee implicitly or expressly to perform the services, and when the services are not in connection with the employee's principle work activity.

Families and relatives of Forest Service employees are eligible for volunteer service as long as the official who negotiates and signs the agreement form is not an immediate family member.

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