If you stop by Rumsey Park in Shepherdstown this month, you’ll see something new — a cliffside view up the Potomac River that until recently was obscured by a thick overgrowth of weedy trees.
Erik Berndt of Viking Tree Service showed up to the park on August 10 to perform what he described as a “vista pruning” — clearing out the understory of small invasive trees that had overgrown the cliffside and opening up room for the mature specimen trees to thrive. At the end of the day, Berndt and his team had cleared out a strip approximately 10 to 15 feet past the stone wall that overlooks the Potomac River, enough to open up a view of the Rumsey bridge from the base of the monument. For Berndt, the project was a chance to try out his new grapple-saw and crane truck which could reach out over the the cliffside to quickly cut and pull the brush up — a flick of the joystick and the push of a button instead of an elaborate rope setup and a precarious climb down for each cut.
The project was funded by local resident Hank Walter who recalled the park from years ago when it was the site of the picnic after the town’s Independence Day parade. “The hillside was much more open and there was a spectacular view of the monument from Maryland.”
Many of the trees removed were “Tree of Heaven,” the favorite food for the fast-growing population of Spotted Lanternfly that has arrived in Jefferson and Berkeley Counties. The sticky residue created by these insects can be a nuisance in backyards and parks, especially when it attracts wasps and bees. The Lanternfly’s potential to damage grape vines is a bigger concern according to the US Department of Agriculture.Staff Contributor