Volunteers Clean Up Rocky Shore Drive

By Brady Smith

IOWA CITY, Iowa - John Loomis and a handful of volunteers are giving a facelift to a small stretch of the river bank along Rocky Shore Drive.

"We want to clean it up so it looks good, because this is the gateway to the city, and also we're interested in managing the vegetation here," said Loomis on Saturday.

Loomis has done this already, but he said this vegetation grows a lot faster than he thought it would.

"We did this 10 years ago, the same thing, and that was too many years ago," Loomis explained. "We should do it about once every two years."

Among the volunteers is Erin Irish, a University of Iowa biology professor. She's identified several invasive species along this bank that tend to overtake and smother other plants and trees. One of the non-native species is the white mulberry.

"Those are young trees growing along here, and they grow really quickly and they will cover up younger, slower-growing trees," said Irish. "We also have a lot of grapevines, which are native, and they just tend to spread whenever they get a chance."

Those prove to be one of the biggest challenges for this group, as they cut, yanked, and chopped their way through the tangled mess.

"They make a lot of branches along the stem, so you think you can cut the bottom and you're done, you've killed the plant, but no."

Loomis hopes that in the future, he can work with the city to keep this "gateway area" beautiful for years to come.

"We started down there about 100 yards and if we can go that way 100 yards, that would be great," Loomis told us.

City workers will pick up and dispose of the trimmed vegetation after the volunteers are finished.
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