On September 20, twenty Princeton University students gathered at Turning Basin Park to clean up litter and remove invasive species. Megan Prier of Princeton's Water Watch organized the event. Half the crew took to the canal in canoes, in search of floating debris, while the rest of us took on a grove of Ailanthus (Tree of Heaven) growing on a slope overlooking the D&R canal.
The Ailanthus, like porcelain berry, purple loosestrife, lesser celandine and other exotics, uses the canal as an avenue for spread. Water lettuce, shown in the photo, may be another one to add to that list.
The Ailanthus was competing with some ornamental cherry trees growing next to the towpath, and was also blocking the view of the bench. For many of the students, it was a first encounter with the art of canoe paddling, the citrony fragrance of native spicebush leaves, and the satisfaction of completely clearing an embankment of an invasive weed. Thanks to Water Watch and the university students for helping tend to this popular trail corridor and entryway into town.