ARLINGTON, Va. (WUSA) -- There's a war going on in the Potomac River Basin. A war waged by every day citizens to stop an invader that threatens an ecosystem and costs the U.S. economy more than 120 billion every year.
Mary Travaglini of The Nature Conservancy works with volunteers to fight the unwelcome inhabitants: "When you go over the Potomac River at Chain Bridge or the American Legion Bridge, you're looking down at some of the rarest habitats on earth, some of those plant communities are found no where else except in the Potomac Gorge."
But this precious ecosystem is under attack from foreign invaders.
Mary adds, "Invasive species out compete many of our native species for light nutrients and water."
A growing number of volunteer "weed warriors" have enlisted to fight back.
"There are about 700 in Montgomery County," according to Seth Goldstein. He and and his fellow "weed warrior," Paula Stone, thought the shapes of the Oriental Bittersweet vines were so interesting that they put them together into different shapes and now display them to raise awareness about these invasive species. You might call it 'de-vine intervention' and these 2 are pioneers in the 'vine arts.'
The idea to make the sculptures just came to Paula, "I had a dream that night where all these pieces assembled themselves into this sculpture."
Seth Goldstein describes their camel sculpture Omar, "This was a special piece where we looked around in the pile and we finished off the head. It already was a camel. It had the hump. We added an extra piece to make the hump. Then we were looking for ahead. All of a sudden I saw this piece in our pile. I said 'that's the head,' cut it and brought it over."
Paula and Seth hope more people will join them and help make a difference. "It's very satisfying to know that we are saving some beautiful trees in our parks," said Paula.
You can see the sculptures at the Nature Conservancy Offices in Arlington and also at Brookside Garden's in Wheaton.
Written by Howard Bernstein
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