In April of 2019, working under our volunteer agreement with the USFS Andrew Pickens Ranger District, we gathered a group of volunteers and took our first trip to “Cigarette Beach” in Sect. IV of the Chattooga River. Using shovels, mattocks, saws, and shears, we worked to tackle kudzu, multiflora rose, mimosa, and Japanese honeysuckle. Our work is done using strictly hand tools, digging up root crowns and nodes to stop growth at the source, rather than spraying pesticides that will just kill vines for the season. The success of this first trip kept us motivated to continue this important work; meanwhile, witnessing the rapid growth of kudzu down the river through the spring and summer highlighted the need to greatly increase this effort to protect the river’s native ecosystems.
The large kudzu patch on the Georgia side of the river at the Hwy 76 bridge quickly became our first priority, as this is likely the seed source for what’s developing downstream. Together with several hard-working volunteers, we’ve managed to knock back much of the kudzu and remove some of the largest kudzu crowns we’ve ever seen. We counted the rings of one massive root that was at least six years old! We’re continuing to work on this patch and monitor for new growth, and we’re now focusing more attention downstream for the next few months.
With kudzu and other invasives spreading rapidly along the banks of the Chattooga, there is plenty of work to be done! We’re organizing our next trip for September 29th, in partnership with our friends at Wander North Georgia. We’d love to have your help! Details here. Stay tuned for more event dates soon!