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Bear Creek blackberries on their way out

Over the years, there has been a lot of discussion about the blackberry bushes along Bear Creek. Every once in a while, I see stories about efforts to clean them up, particularly around Hawthorne Park. Could you give me a progress report?

— Jim S., Medford

Blackberry bushes, as we all know, have been a thorny issue for Medford residents. Some people have complained that they provide good cover for the homeless to camp out along the Bear Creek Greenway.

The problem with blackberry bushes is they make it difficult for native plants to thrive.

If you want to see the progress being made to eradicate them, Jim, you should go stand at either the Fourth Street bridge over Bear Creek, or the bridge at Main Street.

On both sides of the creek along Hawthorne Park, you'll notice that a largely volunteer effort has resulted in the elimination of most of the blackberry bushes.

Behind the former Red Lion Inn, the blackberries used to cover the entire bank up to the building. The new owners, who call the hotel The Inn at the Commons, have worked with a volunteer group to clean up the blackberries.

A comprehensive plan to clean up the banks of Bear Creek from 10th Street to McAndrews Road was discussed by the City Council last year and could cost up to $213,000.

The Rogue Valley Council of Governments developed a restoration plan that recommends removal of invasive species by hand and through the use of herbicides.

Once the invasive plants are removed, native vegetation such as willows, dogwood, elderberry, ash and other species would be planted, many of which would require watering for a two- to three-year period to help them establish.

Maintenance will be required for three to five years to eradicate weeds.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.