What’s the best part of the 2019 Weed Wrangle at the Lookout Mountain Conservancy’s property at the foot of Lookout? That’s hard to say. The idea of restoring the former majesty of Rockmont Park that was just above Chattem is appealing, as is the idea of getting a grip on the invasives that are surely (and not-so-slowly) taking over our beautiful mountain. A chance to work hand-in-hand with the Howard interns is nothing you ever want to turn down; these remarkable kids take great pride in the gardens and grounds they have restored and are excited about the work they continue to do.
But the coolest thing about the Weed Wrangle that Robin Carlton, Ashley Cofield and Virginia Polley organized is the unity of community at the event. Folks from Lookout Mountain, St. Elmo, Wildwood, downtown Chattanooga and other areas chatted with one another as they dug holes for native saplings and pulled tenacious kudzu together. Victorious when massive and ancient invasives were ripped from the ground, these folks connected in ways that fighting together for a common cause bring forth.
There were jobs for everyone, from constructing bee houses to battling gigantic honeysuckle bushes to grilling hot dogs for lunch. And everyone showed up, including Kathleen Robinson, who demonstrated planting little native trees that now dot the entire swath of mountainside that was impenetrable due to thick choking vines and other invasive interlopers.
The one-day, citywide volunteer effort to rescue our public parks and green spaces from invasive species through hands-on removal took place on different days all over Tennessee, but it occurred on a beautiful Saturday in April at the foot of Lookout at the ruins of the former Rockmont Park. This park served residents of one of the very first neighborhoods in Chattanooga, and overlooks the Tennessee River. A pollinator garden, a thriving vegetable garden and a boulder park are all bringing this lovely spot back to life. And after a mere couple of hours, this group made a great dent in this area’s recovery.