Vesuvius Fun Day to teach about invasive plants

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 31, 2006

Although most people don’t realize it, the invasion is on.

Slowly, day by day, it spreads and takes over the territory of others and causes havoc.

Of course most people probably don’t spend that much time on the lookout for kudzu or stilt grass.

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On Saturday, kids and families can learn more about nonnative, invasive plants during a Vesuvius Family Fun Day at the Ohio University Nature Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Besides plants, kids can learn about some local wildlife such as snakes, turtles and even a couple mammals like the possum that OU Nature Center Director Robert Culp has been raising.

Family Fun Day is a way for the public to become aware of the studies Culp and his students have been doing in the Lawrence County area.

“We have a lot of fun activities planned for kids and their parents,” Culp said. “They will be taken out to see the habitat.”

There will be a scavenger hunt to look for various plants

The threat of invasive nonnative plants is more environmental than cosmetic.

“Take for instance, stilt grass. Deer can eat and eat and eat but they can’t digest it and it takes over a field like crazy,” Culp said. “Autumn olive is a quaint-looking tree but it’s really bad for the environment of this area, it takes over and replaces native plants that are a part of the ecosystem.”

The nature center boasts of a dozen snakes that are native to Ohio as well as turtles, geckoes and a tarantula.

“We will have some furry animals as well,” Culp said. “I have a possum which most people haven’t seen up close.”

Culp has been raising the animal since its mother was killed and someone dropped it off on his doorstep. And he does plan to release it back into wild after this weekend.

“I think it will be an interesting day for all,” he said. “It will be a lot of fun.”

This event marks the nature center’s switch to weekend schedule since kids have returned to school. One of the most popular events is the annual reading of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” which will be on Oct. 21 this year. Participants are lead through the woods by the Grim Reaper to a cave for the reading of Washington Irving’s Halloween classic tale.

The Vesuvius Recreation Area is seven miles north of Ironton on Ohio 93