What Dennis Kommer can do in a few hours in the Hansville Greenway saves trail volunteers days of toil, tangles and thorns. It also saves two meadows that provide homes for voles, field mice and frogs and a pastoral view for people.

“There’s a lot more life living in the meadows than dragonflies,” says Howie O’Brien, who’s in charge of projects for the Greenway Association.

Dennis, who owns Dennis Kommer Excavating LLC, has volunteered for the past three years to mow down the blackberries and other invasive plants that threaten to overtake the 10-acre Otter Meadow located west of the Greenway entrance near the Hansville Community Center ballfield and the two-acre Bear Meadow located near the north end of Buck Lake.

Finding the ideal time to mow is tricky. Machines are too dangerous to run in the meadows during fire season and get stuck in the mud during the rainy season. Spring is the time for nesting. When Dennis is notified the time is right, he climbs onto his excavator with a flail mower and downs blackberry brambles, alder sprouts and thistles while he spares, with guidance, canary grass, Douglas spirea and clumps of Salmonberry. Without the mowing, the forest eventually would reclaim the former farmland.

The Trail Association uses self-propelled mowers for smaller jobs on the Greenway but rented a tractor for the meadows until Dennis volunteered.

 “We live here in Hansville,” says Beth Kommer, Dennis’s wife and partner. “Mowing the meadows is our way to give back.  It’s easy for us to do and we love to do it.”

By Cynthia Taggart