Park Rangers Say Bittersweet Vine Is Attacking Trees in Mines of Spain

by Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

DUBUQUE, Iowa - A popular autumn vine, commonly used for decoration, now threatens trees at one state park. Rangers at Mines of Spain in Dubuque say Bittersweet is attacking the trees there.

Within the Mines of Spain Park, anglers enjoy a picturesque paddle along Catfish Creek.

Jack Williams said, "You got all the fall color that comes in. In the early spring you have various shades of green. "

Others enjoy a family stroll through the hiking trails.

Kathleen Klapatauskas said, "The nature is beautiful. It's just so peaceful. You feel like you are in the middle of the wilderness right here in the city. "

But an invasive species threatens the plants and trees at this popular park. And like it's name, it's bittersweet.

Mines of Spain Park Ranger Wayne Buchholtz said, "The berries hold on very well and they kind of get hard as they mature and they last for quite a while. "

Rangers say that strong, luscious vine finds it's way to the trees and rapidly grows upwards.

"It can eventually totally cover up a tree and eventually kill that tree because it's going to be covering up all the vegetation. The leaves and so forth it starves it from the sunlight," said Buchholtz.

Rangers say the only way to protect trees from Bittersweet is to rip those vines out by hand. They're are asking for volunteers to help rip out those vines next Saturday, August 24th starting at 8 a.m.
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