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Photos: 4th annual Weed Smackdown

Valley of the Moon residents Emily Kaleugher and Ben Zimmerlund uproot an invasive mayday tree from the Chester Creek greenbelt on Saturday, August 9, 2014 during the 4th annual Anchorage Weed Smackdown. The project aims to remove invasive species like the mayday tree from area parks.
Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News
Andrea McCormack helps her son Finn McCormack, age 5, and daughter Amelia McCormack, age 9, plant a native spruce tree along the bank of Chester Creek in Valley of the Moon Park on Saturday, August 9, 2014 during the 4th annual Anchorage Weed Smackdown. The project aims to remove invasive species like the mayday tree from area parks and encourage the growth of native plants.
Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News
Families plant native birch and spruce trees along the bank of Chester Creek in Valley of the Moon Park on Saturday, August 9, 2014 during the 4th annual Anchorage Weed Smackdown. The project aims to remove invasive species like the mayday tree from area parks and encourage the growth of native plants.
Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News
A volunteer carries uprooted invasive mayday trees from a wooded area near Valley of the Moon Park during the 4th annual Anchorage Weed Smackdown on Saturday, August 9, 2014. The project aims to remove invasive species like the mayday tree from area parks.
Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News
Loren Holmes

Armed with shovels, picks and "weed wrenches," dozens of community volunteers descended on Anchorage's Valley of the Moon park on Saturday to do their best to eradicate an invasive tree that is threatening the long-term health of the forest.

The European bird cherry tree, commonly known as the mayday tree, is an ornamental tree that has steadily spread from yards to trails and forests throughout Anchorage.

This year marks the fourth annual Anchorage Weed Smackdown, an event sponsored by various local, state and federal agencies. Work of years past can be seen along the Chester Creek trail near Valley of the Moon.

The edges of the effort clearly show the invasive nature of the tree, with open forest floor giving way to thick growth that chokes out other native plant species.

For more information on the Weed Smackdown, and to learn more about invasive plant species in Anchorage, visit weedwar.net.