It didn't take long for a Rising Sun High School student to learn why native tear thumb plants had to be removed from the wetland at Rising Sun's Triangle Park.
"Ow," she said as her legs brushed against one of the plants.
Getting native tear thumb plants out of the park was one job for a group of volunteers who met at the park Wednesday evening, August 12.
"It's got prickles on it. It's aptly named," said Rupert Rosetti, who helps coordinate the twice-a-month cleanup.
Rosetti coordinates the twice-a-month cleanup at the park.
Nearly a dozen people, ranging from students on summer vacation to retired people, spent two hours removing tear thumbs and invasive plants from the park's wetland.
Among them were students from Rising Sun High School.
"We want them to get involved in the community outside of school, on their own time," teacher Greg Stickler said. "This way, they have a sense of ownership of the community."
During the school year, the students came out to help plant 80 trees around the wetlands and the adjacent dog park.
The wetlands filters storm water from about 20 acres of developed land that does not have its own stormwater controls. The plantings treat stormwater to prevent pollution from entering Stone Run. They also provide a habitat for birds, insects, and other native wildlife.
Wednesday night's group included one member of the school's Class of 2015, Kris Swanson. Swanson earned a perfect score in the spring AP exam and will attend Cecil College this year.
Most of the students are members of Sticker's advanced placement environmental science class.
In addition to the tear thumb, the students and the adult volunteers were also working to rid the park of reed canary grass.
Unlike the tear thumb, which is native, the canary grass is an invasive species.
"If we don't control it, it can take over," Rosetti said. "There's a lot in the upper wetland pool. It can crowd out the native plants."
The volunteers were also cutting back the native cattails.
"They do good work taking nutrients out of the water, but we want other plants in there so we have to edit them out," Rosetti said.
The work has to be done by hand to avoid injuring the native plants in the same area. Rosetti and other organizers provided the tools. Other supplies, including gloves and trash bags, were provided by Project Clean Stream.
The bags were used to contain plants cut from the wetlands. If the plants had been left in place, they could reseed, diminishing the work's effects.
"The experts now recommend they be cut down three or four times every growing season. It take several years of doing that to control the invasives," he said.
Last week's project is part of an ongoing effort to maintain the wetlands. Volunteers meet every couple of weeks to work on the park.
"We do a bit of maintenance," Rosetti said. "The town does the flat stuff and we're doing the detail work around the trees, pulling the weeds that have come up, and removing invasive species from the wetland."