NEWS- Tangled: Youths battle oriental bittersweet

Americorps' Jennifer Murphy spent six weeks fighting viney invaders that threaten to choke out native trees.

The Americorps team sent to Charlottesville fights world-class invaders in city parks and on public land.

Ten AmeriCorps youths recently spent six weeks valiantly battling Charlottesville's most invasive intruders. April 11 at Buford Middle School found them taking on porcelain berry, oriental bittersweet, and autumn olive.

"It can be difficult," reports Californian Jennifer Murphy of the long days of eradicating kudzu and English ivy on public land around town. Casualties include scratches, poison ivy, and in a few cases, "People pulled vines and ended up on their rears," she says.

AmeriCorps‘ National Civilian Community Corps puts 18- to 24-year-olds to work in communities around the country. Since March 10, the team here has worked at McIntire, Pen, Azalea, and Quarry parks, as well as taken out a huge swath of kudzu and oriental bittersweet behind Bodo's and the English Inn. They've put in a new trail at Buford so kids can walk to school, and April 11 they headed over to Greenleaf Park.

"We're going to try to encircle and contain one acre of kudzu," says Susan Pleiss with city parks and rec. "It's threatening four neighboring homes and engulfing trees. Kudzu is easy to contain if it can be mowed. We'll push inward."

Despite the overwhelming odds against defeating the invasive species on a paltry meal allowance of $4.50 a day, the youths seemed upbeat– and some even took on extra volunteer projects at Camp Holiday Trails, where they were being housed.

Next stop for the young men and women: New Orleans.