Meck Co. parks receive grant to help kill kudzu, other non-native plants harmful to trees

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - With above-average temperatures on a hot day, shade is a hot commodity. But the tree canopy in Mecklenburg County's parks is at risk, and kudzu isn't the only culprit.

Tuesday, the Mecklenburg County Commission granted the Parks and Recreation Department $200,000 to ramp up efforts to remove non-native invasive plants that are killing trees.

We met Chris Matthews, Director of Natural Resources for Mecklenburg County Park and Rec at Evergreen Nature Preserve in east Charlotte. The place is perfectly named, a canopy of green tall trees with trails throughout.

Matthews said some of the flowering plants we have at home, are in parks like Evergreen, and can be deadly to the trees.

"For example here's a wisteria vine right here it looks like this has been partially sprayed. But if this vine, and a lot people have this in their yards, but this vine can actually climb a tree and it can choke a tree and kill it," Matthews pointed out.

English ivy might look pretty, but Matthews says this vine can be the death of a beautiful tree in just a few seasons.

"I think the challenge for us is the sheer volume of invasive plants that are in Mecklenburg County."

The $200,000 grant from the county won't eradicate all the invasive species in parks, but Matthews says it's a huge help.

"By taking care of what we know is supposed to be here and making sure we're keeping the stuff at least minimized that's not supposed to be here... at the end of the day, it makes for higher quality of life," he said.

The problem of non-native invasive plants is a battle Matthews and his team battle year-round.

"It really is something you have to stay on top of all the time," Matthews said. "So whenever you get an opportunity like this funding from commissioners, at least to jump-start something, it's really important to take advantage of it."

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