The National Park Service has hired a contractor to remove 4 acres of golden bamboo that fronts Cook and Goosley roads.
“It’s a very invasive plant. It takes over anything in its way,” said Dorothy Geyer, a natural resources specialist for the Park Service.
The removal will help clear a sightline to the historic English and French earthworks from the National Cemetery located across Cook Road. The bamboo forest also nearly surrounds the historic Shiloh Church cemetery adjacent to the property.
The project takes about a month and involves cutting down what are in many cases 40- to 60-foot stalks of bamboo. The stumps are sprayed with herbicide to penetrate the root system and kill the plant so it will not regrow. The dead stumps are then ground.
“It’s been pretty successful but very labor intensive,” Geyer said.
Bamboo can grow inches in a single day, which the U.S. Forest Service calls an aggressive rate.
Geyer said the Park Service has been trying to eliminate patches of bamboo throughout the park, using volunteers to clear the areas, which proved to be too much work.
The Park Service is using about $78,000 for the project from revenue collected by visitor centers.
Geyer said an archaeological study was performed prior to the removal to see if any key cultural resources were in the area, finding none.
Particular species of bamboo can carry some harvest value, but the golden bamboo has drawn few suitors.
Geyer said the Park Service gauged the interest of the National Zoo in Washington for pandas, which feed almost exclusively on various species of bamboo. Golden bamboo is not one of them.
The Park Service also reached out to some flute makers, who also showed no interest in the particular species.
Geyer said essentially they were unable to find anyone who was willing to pay to harvest the bamboo or do it for free.
Instead, the stalks are being placed on fire roads to create a 4-inch base on the cleared paths to provide better access.