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Avoid exotic, invasive plants like Oriental bittersweet and multiflora rose. These plants may have attractive berries, but they can cause severe damage to native plants, shrubs, and trees.

MassWildlife: Avoid decorating with invasive plants

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During the holiday season, many people use plants to decorate their homes or businesses. If you wish to use plants in your decorations, be sure to select native species such as native pines, spruces, hemlock, American holly, mountain laurel, fir, or winterberry holly.
Avoid exotic, invasive plants like Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) and multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora). These plants may have attractive berries, but they can cause severe damage to native plants, shrubs, and trees. Invasive plants can spread quickly in open fields, forests, wetlands, meadows, and backyards, crowding out native plants that provide valuable wildlife habitat. Oriental bittersweet can even kill mature trees. Cutting and moving these invasive plants to make wreaths or garland can spread their seeds even more. Birds may also feed on the fruits hung for decoration and further spread the digested but still-viable seeds. Both plants are extremely difficult to control; when cut, the remaining plant segment in the ground will re-sprout and grow quickly. It is illegal to import or sell bittersweet and Multiflora rose in any form (plants or cuttings) in Massachusetts.
Get tips to identify Oriental bittersweet and multiflora rose below or click here to learn more about invasive plants in Massachusetts.
Oriental Bittersweet
Identification: A climbing deciduous, woody vine that can grow up to 60 feet long and up to 6 inches in diameter. It can also grow along the ground spreading orange-colored roots. Young stems are brown with warty lenticels (raised pores); bark of older plants appears gray. New twig growth is smooth and green. Leaves are rounded and are narrower at the base. Small greenish flowers bloom from May to June. Yellow-orange capsules are produced from July to October. Later in the fall, the seed covering splits open to reveal red-orange seeds.
Threat: Oriental bittersweet grows fast and wraps around nearby shrubs or trees. Native woody plants can be shaded out, strangled, or uprooted. It can reproduce by seed or through root suckers.

Multiflora Rose

Identification: A deciduous shrub with arching and scrambling stems that may grow up to 10–15 feet tall. The stems are red to green with scattered, broad-based prickles. Each leaf has 5–11 elliptical leaflets with sharply serrated edges. After the flowers fade in late summer, rose hips (resembling leathery red berries) are left on the plant and remain throughout the winter.
Threat: Multiflora rose grows in dense thickets and quickly outcompetes other plants. It can completely dominate abandoned fields or pastures. Each plant can produce half a million seeds and these may remain viable in the soil for up to 20 years.

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Berkshire County Regional Employment Board Awarded State Grant

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Healey-Driscoll Administration announced $16.3 million in Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF) grants awarded to nine organizations to upskill 1,860 individuals for careers in high-demand occupations in healthcare and behavioral health sectors across Massachusetts. 
The funding will support initiatives to train and hire unemployed and underemployed individuals while providing current employees with the skills to meet the needs of Massachusetts employers for roles such as Emergency Medical Technician, Certified Nurse Assistant, and Mental Health Peer Support Specialist.
"Industries across the state are experiencing workforce challenges, but the need is particularly great in behavioral health care, as we need enough trained workers to provide the care that our residents need and deserve," said Governor Maura Healey. "These grants will help address these challenges by hiring and training new talent and upskilling existing talent."  
In Berkshire County, the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board, Inc. was awarded $2,227,173.
Berkshire County Regional Employment Board will provide training and placement services to prepare 510 unemployed and underemployed participants for Medical Assistant, Certified Nurse Assistant, Acute Care Nurse Assistant, and Registered Behavioral Technician positions. They will partner with Community Health Programs, The Brien Center, Berkshire Health Systems, and Integritus Healthcare. 
This partnership also aims to assess the demand and develop programming opportunities for Licensed Practical Nurses, career pathways for Licensed Practical Nurses to Registered Nurses, and provide career advancement training for incumbent Behavioral Health workers.
The Workforce Competitive Trust Fund Program grants, administered by Commonwealth Corporation on behalf of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, are part of the Healey-Driscoll Administration's strategic investment to retain and upskill existing talent in Massachusetts' current workforce. The Healthcare/Behavioral Health Hub Grants announced today support investments in collaborative efforts focused on addressing healthcare and behavioral health workforce needs in regions across the Commonwealth. 
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