By Andrew McCue

News staff

Wildflowers will begin to bloom with the arrival of early spring at the 420-acre Monocacy Hill Recreation Area in Amity Township.

Risa Marmontello, a member of the Amity Township Parks and Recreation Board and president of the Monocacy Hill Conservation Association, said those flowers are her motivation.

"We have some rare and delicate wildflowers in the park and we want to protect them," Marmontello said, while leading a group from the Schuylkill Watershed Congress (SWC) through the recreation area on Sunday. The SWC held its annual meeting at the West Campus of Montgomery County Community College on Saturday.

Marmontello discussed the invasive plants that threaten the native species of the recreation area. At the site of a home that had been removed long ago, Marmontello showed the group English ivy, wisteria and day lilies, some of the invasive plants that were part of the home's original landscaping.

Volunteers from the conservation association aren't allowed to use herbicides in the recreation area, so they use other means to kill the invasive plants.

"When we walk we just pull them out as we go," said Mimi Feeg of Birdsboro, a member of the Monocacy Hill association and the Hay Creek Watershed Association.

Marmontello said the group marks invasive trees when they have leaves so they are easier to identify after fall.

Among the recreation area's priorities are to kill off the invasive plants and to improve the trails so hikers will not inadvertently brush up against the plants and spread their seeds.

Not disturbing the tree canopy is another priority, as more sunlight encourages the spread of invasive plants.

The Monocacy Hill Recreation Area, purchased by the township in 1967 with state and federal assistance, is located on Geiger Road.

To clear the invasives and improve the trail, the conservation association will hold a spring work weekend on Saturday and Sunday, March 25 and 26. Volunteers should meet at the Geiger Road parking lot at 8:30 a.m. For more informatio call 610-385-3226 or 610-385-7675.

uContact reporter Andrew McCue

at 610-367-6041, ext. 225 or

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