There's a bench at Turning Basin Park in Princeton, located strategically on a bluff overlooking the canal. Nice view, except that the canal could not be seen due to a wall of Tree of Heaven sprouts that had grown up in front of the bench.
This past Friday, the view of the canal was restored, thanks to a workday organized by Princeton WaterWatch and Butler College. While a couple picnicked on the bench, 25 Princeton University freshmen came down to the canal and cleared the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus) from the slope between Turning Basin Park and the canal. I gave them an introductory spiel about the role of Friends of Princeton Open Space in town and the value of doing habitat restoration.
Though most had arrived with little knowledge of plants, they soon found themselves vigorously taking on Princeton's most invasive tree. While clearing the view for the one bench, they found another that had disappeared completely beneath the swarming invasive growth (on the left in the photo). A highly invasive vine, Porcelain Berry, was also cut along the slope. Any resprouts next year should be considerably weaker, since cutting them this time of year will cheat their roots of any nutrients the leaves and stems would have sent down in preparation for winter.
The view of the canal restored (the couple were comically oblivious to our efforts), the students then treated themselves to canoe rides. All in all a fun and rewarding afternoon.