GENESEO — At the Spencer Roemer Arboretum on the SUNY Geneseo campus, people of all ages gathered Saturday to pick up and remove invasive plant species in an effort to make the area a little better for people and wildlife.
“I think it improves the quality of life. It’s educational because it can entertain many different ideas, from birdwatching to looking for flowers. It’s just a great place for people to come and gather,” said Patti LaVigne, a member of the Livingston County Environmental Council and the Geneseo Rotary Club.
The cleanup project was a unique effort between SUNY Geneseo, Rotary and the Livingston County Environmental Council.
The Arboretum is at the south end of campus, off State Route 39. It is a unique 25-acre lot that is open for people to come and sit or walk around. It is also largely unmonitored and with that SUNY Director of Sustainability Geneseo Dan DeZarn said sometimes people don’t always take care of the earth the way they should.
“Some of these mental health benefits are interrupted when you see an old bottle of beer or a bag of McDonald’s potato chips or chicken nuggets that we just picked up here before,” DeZarn said.
Another problem in the area is the growing number of non-native invasive plant species that are taking over and making life difficult for the plants that birds and other inspections depend on.
“They occupy the space that native species would occupy, which reduces biodiversity in the arboretum. They impact migratory birds and other wildlife and somehow disrupt the ecosystem. What we’re trying to do is remove, it’s not realistic to remove everything, but we’re trying to remove pockets of it to reintroduce native plants that would be here and that are beneficial to biodiversity,” he said. said DeZarn.
With shovels and hands, the volunteers did their best to remove the plants. The main objective was to try to eliminate invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle. It’s just a small step that attendees hope will help improve the lives of everyone who uses the space.
“It’s a good thing to do and try to do good in the community,” said Rotary member Alex Schumacher.
For the students, they also hope to make the neighborhood a little better. They also hope that their actions will continue not only during Earth Week, but throughout the year.
“I think if we can learn to think before we throw it away, how can it be recycled, composted, or some other way to dispose of it,” said SUNY Geneseo junior Liz Hailey. “I think it could go a long way if all the students did that.”