Though the temperature was in the 30s, more than a dozen volunteers spent two hours removing invasive vegetation from Hillside Woods in Hastings on the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 10.
Most of them were equipped with their own pruners, pitchforks, and shovels. Haven Colgate of the Hastings Conservation Commission and Hastings Vine Squad supplied tools to the rest.
The volunteers ranged from children to adults, including residents of Irvington. One Irvington resident brought a red oak sapling that had been growing too close to her home and to another tree. With the help of two Hastings residents, the red oak was planted in a clearing. One of the Hastings residents promised to check on it.
The effort that afternoon was part of the restoration of Hillside Woods. The next steps will involve cutting down invasive trees, such as Norway maples, and putting up fencing to prevent deer from eating the native vegetation.
In the Irvington Woods, a similar initiative is underway. Last month, on Dec. 13, volunteers removed invasive plants around the O’Hara Nature Center and the Irvington Reservoir. Haven Colgate of Hastings was among them.
Last October, Dobbs Ferry also benefited from help supplied by its neighbors. On Oct. 18, residents of Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, Hastings, and Irvington planted 65 native shrubs north of The Danforth Apartments at Rivertowns Square, along the west side of the Saw Mill River Parkway.
Sue Galloway, chair of the Dobbs Ferry Conservation Advisory Board, obtained the shrubs through Trees for Tribs, a program of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
The Village of Dobbs Ferry owns the 6.4 acres on which those shrubs were planted. Last September, the Village submitted an application to acquire 8.4 adjacent acres from New York State. That application was prepared by Chet Kerr, co-chair of the Greater Irvington Land Trust, who documented the history of that property as far back as 1785. If successful, the 14.8 acres would be protected as parkland between the apartments and the Ashford Avenue Bridge.
In the Rivertowns, there is a lot cross-pollination, and not just by the birds and the bees. Neighbors are helping neighbors to restore and protect their forests and to promote concepts such as the pollinator pathway, which encourages the planting of native vegetation. Next month, the Village of Ardsley plans to launch its own pollinator pathway project.
In each community, there is a core group of volunteers who lend their hands to efforts such as privet pulls and tree plantings. In all of the communities, those efforts are expanding, thanks in part to help from neighbors.