There is a pleasant park-like area at the southeast corner of the intersection of Ernest L. Collins Ave. (formerly East Park Ave.) and Hudson L. Barksdale Blvd. This spot of land was at one time the site of the garden for Epiphany Mission, which still exists. The land subsequently became the back yards of homes that no longer exist. Unfortunately, the area is blighted by kudzu, which has worked its way up into tall majestic trees. (Thanks to Coalition volunteer Bea Hill for the background history of the location! She is a former resident of the neighborhood, and a historian of Spartanburg.) April 2006.
Besides covering the tops of low shrubs (left photograph), it infiltrates and hides a small creek at the bottom of a ravine (right photograph). April 2006.
These early March 2007 photographs were taken before the spring growing season, and show how the landscape appears to pedestrians on sidewalks.
In addition to the usual manual kudzu removal methods for the site, the skid loader was brought in to test a type of powered fork, which provides a better grip on kudzu vines during removal. The unit is wider than a standard fork, and hopefully reduces the number of kudzu vines that wrap around the wheels. March 2007.
Here is a side-view closeup of the fork, looking like the bite of a tyrannosaurus rex.
Noticeable progress was made by May 2007.
The Spartanburg Urban Youth Corps pitched in during June 2007. The photographs show them working both sides of the creek on the site. In the second photograph, Hudson L. Barksdale Blvd. is at the top of the hill in the background.
And here's the crew as they appeared May 2007!
They returned again July 2007 . . .
. . . and the Coalition posted a sign on the site that recognizes the community improvement work of the Spartanburg Urban Youth Corps.
During this visit a video for broadcast about the Youth Corps kudzu work was made by Spartanburg based Creative Cameras & Recording Inc. for The City of Spartanburg.
Thanks to the work of volunteers like the Spartanburg Urban Youth Corps, the appearance of the site continues to improve. July 2007.
One of the trees saved from kudzu is an American Sycamore. It is a dominant visual factor for the site. Although the following photograph shows that the tree was heavily damaged, and it still suffers from a "bleached bones" look, it is in recovery. When this photograph was taken the foliage was spectacular in the sunlight. We expect that the tree will be an important asset once it fills in with foliage again. September 2007.
Tony Morgan, Spartanburg GPS Coordinator, performs GPS mapping at the site during September 2007.
This image is the result provided by Tony in October 2007. It is an overhead photograph of the site with GPS data superimposed in the form of a map. Note that local streets names are shown. The thin black line and the outermost thick black line surround the area containing kudzu along a ravine as measured in 2006, 1.06 acres. Water flows at the bottom of the ravine, a source of moisture for kudzu even during drought. The thick black line with yellow crosshatch shows area cleared of kudzu by volunteers as of September 2007, 0.23 acres (22% of the original infestation area). While these area measurements indicate the amount of ground worked completed by volunteers, the measurements do not fully reflect the amount of site work. For example, trees were gapped, a type of work not captured in an area measurement. Nonetheless, the potential for using GPS to quantify the size of infestations, and ground eradication progress, is very promising. Thanks also to Tony's colleague, Tim Carter (Engineering Administrator, Civil Engineering), for his assistance.
In January of 2008, Spartanburg High School students Shawndel Scott, Nate Davis, teacher and advisor Beth Bluemenfeld, and student Matt Hood, removed the largest root yet discovered during the Kudzu Coalition's efforts. Even though a portion was not dug up, the partial root dwarfs its proud conquerors. It is shown upside down.
Back during the fall and winter of 2007, Paul David Blakeley brought his skid loader to bear on the largest vines along the creek under the trees. He wrenched the largest vertical vine from the top of its crown. Enter the Spartanburg Urban Youth Corps again in July 2008.
Howls of victory sounded through the area as these young folks carried out the largest crown of the day. And what a crown it was! This monster measured 25½ inches (65 cm) in circumference, surpassing the previous champion. The largest root is 19½" (50 cm) in circumference. For viewer orientation, the baseball is placed near the top of the crown, which is outlined in red in the second photograph. The largest vine, the one going vertically, was wrenched off during the use of the skid loader while removing a curtain of kudzu vines. The remaining vines are coming off the crown at left and right. This photograph shows the fibrous roots at the bottom where they were cut. The specimen is mostly root by size and weight. It is coated with a preservative which gives the unnaturally shiny appearance. The dry weight as shown is 17 pounds (7.7 kg). July 2008.