Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Friends of Kaercher Creek spring cleanup turned into a summer event.

Originally scheduled for April and tied into Earth Day, the delayed gathering at the former county-leased park east of Hamburg presented several challenges. Not only was it a typical hot and humid summer day, but the runaway overgrowth of weeds and invasives made the effort a bit more difficult.

As current visitors know, this time of year, weeds are measured in feet, not inches. Some reached 5-plus feet in height. The ugliness has stolen the lake area beauty everyone remembers from decades past.

One particular species is flourishing. Tree of Heaven, a favorite of the spotted lantern fly, is running rampant and providing a perfect breeding ground for tens of thousands of the damaging insects.

A group of seven hardy volunteers met on the morning of July 25 to help spruce up what was once referred to as a gem of Northern Berks County.

The work detail included grass mowing, weed whacking, raking, pruning, trimming dangerous dead branches overhanging the walking path, clearing the walking path of debris and down wood, along with picking up trash. At several locations, perpendicular lanes were cut into the weeds to provide anglers unencumbered access to productive shoreline fishing areas.

Among the turnout volunteers were Mike Martak, Nan Harrigle, Dave and Dan Wert, Matt Fuller and Steven Geertman. Each observed social distancing, with a mask available for any close contact among fellow volunteers or the public. After the work detail, volunteers enjoyed a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs and steamed shrimp.

For those who still enjoy visiting Kaercher Creek, these cleanup events help provide easier and safer access to the popular fishing areas and walking paths that exist on the former park side.

A fall cleanup is being planned for Oct. 3, with a rain date of Oct. 10. Follow Friends of Kaercher Creek on Facebook for updates and notification of approval from the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. Anyone wishing to volunteer for the next event can contact Friends of Kaercher Creek through Facebook or call Tim Mazaika at 610-562-4261.

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