If you have been in Morse Park recently you have probably seen some activity along our stream banks or even machinery working in the riparian zones along the stream. We are currently working to remove several species of non-native invasive plants from our park. Many of these plants exist here in great numbers due to their adaptation to our climate. Most were brought here as an ornamental plant to be used in gardens and landscaping. Some were planted as a fast-growing shade tree to possibly replace one lost to age or a storm. These plants include but are not limited to; tree of heaven, multiflora rose, shrub honeysuckle, Japanese honeysuckle, Russian Olive, vinca vine and Bradford pear. If left unchecked and growing in our park, these species will continue to regenerate and spread crowding out our native species. As these non-native trees, shrubs and vines drop their seed, some of it finds soil and sprouts, others land in Hickory Creek and then drift down the waterway to where the water runs, Shoal Creek, Spring River, Neosho River, Arkansas River, and eventually, possibly to the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.

The agreement the City of Neosho has with the machinery operators contains strict guidelines as to which trees, shrubs, and vines to remove. Parks workers are in constant contact with the contractors. They flag and mark the trees and shrubs ahead of the machinery that do not fit the standard guidelines of the agreement that are native species like; walnut, sycamore, box elder, river birch, elm, ash,  redbud and dogwood. If you are in the park and see ribbons on trees and shrubs, please leave them. They represent a tree that we are wanting to leave. 

The overall result of this project will open the stream banks by removal of the non-native plants. The big shading trees above the creek will be left to continue to keep the clear waters of Hickory Creek cool in the summer allowing survival of the fish and other water creatures. Native plants will be allowed to grow where they are needed, and follow-up treatments will be made by Parks Staff to prevent non-native plants from returning.

Much of Hickory Creek has been altered by man over the 200 years this area has served as a community. The town was established here due to the abundance of water. Walbridge Spring is mentioned in the very earliest writings of this area. In one writing it is stated “The town of Neosho, established 8 miles west of Oliver’s Prairie near the Walbridge Spring.”

With all this water it is natural to expect some flooding from time to time. As the community has grown, the flooding has become worse. Looking closely at the banks of Hickory Creek you can see rock work the full length of the park. Most of the rock work has been successful in holding the stream bank, other areas more recent work has been done to improve the stream bank stability. Some of this work dates back 150 years. There is little record of who these people were or the exact date this work would have been done, but their handy work remains along the streambanks of Hickory Creek. Their goals were the same as ours, maintain a beautiful stream flowing through our town.

Hickory Creek is a beautiful stream. The opportunity to fish this stream and the location in our town makes for a very popular local destination. I encourage everyone to get out and enjoy our parks.

Neosho’s Parks are Special!

Clint Dalbom

Neosho Parks Director