Tag Archives: buckthorn

Fighting common buckthorn with a song… check out this video!

Today I’m sharing a great video from the New Ulm, Minnesota Community Buckthorn Removal project. They are working together to control common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) in their community! A great watch if you’re up for a laugh and a quick buckthorn ID lesson.

The description of the video says, “Over the past 25 years, buckthorn, brought from Europe as a landscaping plant, has escaped to become one of our most ubiquitous and destructive species in the landscape, choking out native trees and shrubs for light, moisture and nutrients in addition to reducing diversity of plants, shrubs, wildflowers and songbirds. It forms an impenetrable thicket or understory in woods, destroying nearly all other plant and wildlife habitat where it grows.

The Buckthorn Song was created to raise awareness about the New Ulm, Minnesota Community Buckthorn Removal Project and the importance of removing buckthorn from personal property and surrounding woods. Please help to control or eliminate the spread of buckthorn in your community. Thank you!”

Be a good neighbor – take care of your invasive plant species!

2014 Stewardship Report: Learning from the past, looking to the future

As we look forward to our natural areas stewardship goals for 2015, we look back at what we accomplished in 2014. It was an exciting year! Check out the highlights of the year below, or read the full 2014 Annual Stewardship Report (click the title).

  1. Stewardship Blog: I launched this blog, the Natural Areas Notebook in June 2014 to help inform residents about the cool biota in the township and advertise the many opportunities to help care for our natural areas.
  2. Prescribed Burns: We contracted with Plantwise LLC for prescribed burn work. We completed burns in old fields at Bear Creek Nature Park and Charles Ilsley Park on May 19, 2014. We completed prescribed burns along the Paint Creek Trail at the Art Project, Paint Creek Heritage Area – Wet Prairie, Kamin Easement, and Nicholson Prairie on November 5, 2014. The remaining burns in the contracts (Lost Lake Nature Park, Bear Creek Nature Park forest, and Stony Creek Ravine Nature Park) were postponed due to early snow and will hopefully be completed in Spring 2015.

    The ignition crew communicate closely with the holding crew to make sure the fire does not burn in areas outside the burn unit.
    Prescribed fire at Bear Creek Nature Park in May 2014
  3. Volunteer Program: Volunteer workdays were held two times per month from July to November. Participation was generally low (ranging from 0 to 7 volunteers per workday), but the workdays provided invaluable experience with scheduling, preparing, and leading volunteer workdays.

    SE Michigan Summer Conservation Corps crew, Bear Creek Nature Park, July 2014.
    SE Michigan Summer Conservation Corps crew, Bear Creek Nature Park, July 2014.
  4. Floristic Surveys: I surveyed Gallagher Creek Park, O’Connor Nature Park, and Paint Creek Heritage Area – Fen during summer 2014 to document the plant species growing in each park.
  5. US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Grant: Prairie restoration at Charles Ilsley Park and Draper Twin Lakes Park was jump started by a $15,200 grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service through their Partners for Fish and Wildlife program. The stewardship crew worked hard to clear invasive woody shrubs in 18 acres of old fields at Charles Ilsley Park and 20 acres of old field at Draper Twin Lake Park to prepare for planting in 2015.
  6. USDA Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) grant: work continued on the 2008 WHIP grant, which funds habitat restoration along the Paint Creek Trail to benefit native pollinators.
  7. Seasonal Technicians: We had three outstanding technicians in 2014. Matt Peklo returned for his third year, Alex Kriehbel returned for his second year, and Jonah Weeks worked her first year.

    The stewardship crew pulled lots of garlic mustard in 2014. Help us make 2015 even more successful!
    The stewardship crew pulled lots of garlic mustard in 2014. Help us make 2015 even more successful!
  8. Natural Areas Stewardship Manager: I started with Oakland Township Parks and Recreation as the Natural Areas Stewardship Manager in April 2014.

 

Making space for native plants at the Paint Creek Trail Art Project

A few weeks before our November 5 prescribed burns I headed over to the Art Project on the Paint Creek Trail just north of Gallagher Rd to make sure the area was ready for the burn crew. The Art Project is a tribute to the prairie along the trail, and the many prairie restoration projects along the trail were commemorated with this cool video.

The art project is called "On Prairie." The caption on this plaque reads: " In 1999 a White House Council recognized the Paint Creek Trail as Michigan's Millennium Legacy Trail. This sculpture installation celebrates prairie restoration along the trail. The form of the central copper piece is derived from bur oak and grasses, representing plants in prairie remnants, and fire, for restorative burning."
The art project is called “On Prairie.” The caption on this plaque reads: ” In 1999 a White House Council recognized the Paint Creek Trail as Michigan’s Millennium Legacy Trail. This sculpture installation celebrates prairie restoration along the trail. The form of the central copper piece is derived from bur oak and grasses, representing plants in prairie remnants, and fire, for restorative burning.”
"On Prairie," the art installation on the Paint Creek Trail just north of Gallagher Rd.
“On Prairie,” the art installation on the Paint Creek Trail just north of Gallagher Rd.

When I looked out at the prairie patch surrounding the art project, I saw many shrubs shading out the sun-loving prairie plants, including perennial sunflowers, Culver’s root, shrubby St. John’s wort (Hypericum prolificum), and prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata).

Seed heads of perennial sunflowers (Helianthus sp.). Sunflowers feed wildlife - birds have already eaten the seeds from these plants.
Seed heads of perennial sunflowers (Helianthus sp.). Sunflowers feed wildlife – birds have already eaten the seeds from these plants.
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Shrubby St. John’s wort is found in the patch of prairie next to the Art Project.

Glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus), common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), privet (Ligustrum vulgare), and autumn olive (Eleagnus umbellata) had reclaimed the edges of the prairie since it was last cleared in 2007-2008.

Shrubs creep into the prairie.
The encroaching shrubs belied the art installation recognizing prairie as part of our natural heritage.

I got to work cutting the invasive shrubs. I also treated the cut stumps with herbicide to prevent resprouting. This method is very selective, only affecting the invasive plants that I target, and saves me from cutting the resprouts in the future.

This buckthorn stump was treated within minutes after being cut  to prevent resprouting. I add a tracker dye to the herbicide mix so that I can tell which stumps have been treated.
This buckthorn stump was treated within minutes after being cut to prevent resprouting. I add a tracker dye to the herbicide mix so that I can tell which stumps have been treated.
The brush piles stacked up quickly. I hauled out five loads of brush in a 5 yard trailer.
The brush piles stacked up quickly. I hauled out five loads of brush in a 5 yard trailer.

Over summer 2014 we had some problems with woodchips accidentally being dumped on the prairie, mowers slowly expanding their mowed area, and having to drive through a corner of this prairie with park trucks to access the trail. I also worked with our maintenance crew to rearrange the access to the trail so that we don’t have to drive through this area.

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The maintenance crew put these posts (bollards) where there used to be a gate at the end of the parking lot. This will keep vehicles from driving over the corner of the prairie when they need to access the trail. Also notice the final cleared prairie in the background. It is much more open than it was a few days ago!

Doug, our maintenance foreman, also suggested that we take out a strip of asphalt that had been placed in the prairie several years ago – apparently left over from re-surfacing the Gallagher Rd bridge across Paint Creek. The asphalt patch wasn’t used often, so it made sense to take it out to make space for native grasses and forbs.

Lou (left), Jeff (on tractor), and Doug (right) tear out the asphalt patch by the Art Project. Thanks for your help!
Lou (left), Jeff (on tractor), and Doug (right) tear out the asphalt patch by the Art Project. Thanks for your help!

Next I’ll be seeding the bare ground with native seeds that I collected from nearby parks. I am looking forward to watching this patch over the next few years as the native plants to fill in the area left bare by invasive plants. We’ll do our best to honor our natural heritage, and the Art Project, by keeping this area as prairie.

Volunteer Workday at Bear Creek Nature Park this Saturday, noon – 3 pm: the buckthorn battle continues!

Come to Bear Creek Nature Park this Saturday, September 27 to help with natural areas stewardship! We will continue removing buckthorn around the “skating pond” in the middle of the park. If you’ve visited the pond recently, you may have seen the green herons and wood ducks that have been hanging out there. Maybe you spotted the turtles sunning themselves on a log. Maybe you watched curls of fog rising from the water on a cool morning. By removing buckthorn and other non-native invasive shrubs, we improve wildlife habitat and your ability to watch wildlife. Hope to see you there!

  • Where: Bear Creek Nature Park. Meet in the parking lot at the south end of the park off Snell Road. We’ll then walk down to the skating pond together.
  • When: Saturday, September 27 from noon – 3 pm. In the event of thunderstorms, the event will be cancelled.
  • Who: Anyone! This event is free, with no experience necessary. We’ll train you to do the work. Cutting and stacking brush requires  some physical effort.
  • Why: Why not? We will be remove non-native invasive shrubs and preparing an area for planting native plants. Come out on Saturday to enjoy beautiful areas and hang out with great people! And food after we finish working!
  • What: Bring water and gloves, and wear closed-toed shoes and long pants. We’ll have extra gloves if you can’t bring your own.

We’ll provide water and light snacks. You will need to sign a release form before we begin working. Families are encouraged to attend! All minors will need permission from a parent or guardian to participate, and minors under 14 will need to have a parent or guardian present. We will have lots of fun, so plan to come and share this opportunity with others! The schedule of upcoming workdays can be found at the Volunteer Calendar.

Thanks to the SE Michigan Student Conservation Crew!

If you’ve been out to the docks overlooking Bear Marsh in the northeast corner of Bear Creek Nature Park, you probably noticed that a lot of glossy buckthorn disappeared around one of the docks. The Southeast Michigan Student Conservation Crew (SEMSCC), via Six Rivers Regional Land Conservancy, worked at Bear Creek Nature Park in July to help control buckthorn. You can actually see the marsh now!

The SEMSCC crew removed invasive buckthorn around one of the docks at Bear Marsh.
The SEMSCC crew removed invasive buckthorn around one of the docks at Bear Marsh. The mosquitoes could get thick, but they came prepared!
This sign post was hidden in the buckthorn next to the dock. We were surprised to find it hiding in there!
This sign post was hidden in the buckthorn next to the dock. We were surprised to find it hiding in there!

The crew consisted of high school students from southeast Michigan. Through this program, they learned how to care for natural areas. They also learned to work as a team to accomplish a big task.

The crew also cleared some brush handing over a trail. Here they work as a team to move that brush.
The crew also cleared some brush hanging over a trail. Here they work as a team to move that brush.
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Yeah, they are that cool. Here they admire some butterfly milkweed.

Thanks for all the work you did!

SEMSCC crew, Bear Creek Nature Park, July 2014.
SEMSCC crew, Bear Creek Nature Park, July 2014.