Tag Archives: Garlic mustard

Volunteers needed for June 4 Garlic Mustard Pull along the Paint Creek Trail!

  • What: Garlic Mustard Pull along the Paint Creek Trail to celebrate National Trails Day
  • Why: To help control invasive plants, keep the trail beautiful, and connect with other cool people!
  • When: June 4, 2016. Meet at 9 am at the Paint Creek Cider Mill to get instructions, pull garlic mustard 9:30 am – 12:30 pm. Lunch provided to all participants after!
  • Where: Meet at the Paint Creek Cider Mill, 4480 Orion Rd at 9 am. Groups will then go to different sites.
  • Register: http://paintcreektrail.org/wordpress/garlic-mustard-pull
  • Questions? Email manager@paintcreektrail.org for more information.IMG_2593

Keep the Paint Creek Trail Beautiful

To celebrate National Trails Day®, volunteers are needed for a Garlic Mustard Pull along the Paint Creek Trail on Saturday, June 4, 2016 from 9:30am-12:30pm (meet at 9 am to get instructions).  Garlic Mustard is a biennial, invasive plant with a two year life cycle that grows in shady areas, and in full sun.  It affects biodiversity and forest health by spreading quickly and preventing native plants from growing.  It is often spread by humans, bird, deer, and other wildlife. “Garlic mustard is a serious threat to our natural communities. If allowed to spread, this invasive plant forms dense stands that crowd out native plants, like trilliums and other spring flowers that we love so much. Each garlic mustard plant can produce thousands of seeds that can wait in the soil for years, allowing it to invade both disturbed areas and mature healthy forests. The most common method for controlling garlic mustard is to hand pull second year plants, preventing seed production. Taking the time to remove a few plants before they spread will save a lot of work in the future,” said Dr. Ben VanderWeide, Natural Areas Stewardship Manager for Oakland Township Parks and Recreation.

IMG_2546
The second year plants in this picture have triangular, toothed leaves and a cluster of small, four-petaled, white flowers. The seeds fruit into long pods that dry and burst, shooting the seeds up to three feet! If you notice the pods are starting to open, it’s time to stop pulling or you risk spreading seeds all over.

Everyone is Welcome!

“Volunteer Pulls are an effective way of preventing the spread of Garlic Mustard on the Paint Creek Trail. It needs to be bagged and thrown away, because it can easily re-root if left on the ground.  In addition, it cannot be composted because the compost piles do not get hot enough to break it down.  Burning doesn’t always destroy the seeds either,” said Trail Manager Kristen Myers.  The Paint Creek Trailways Commission will have volunteer sites in Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, and Orion Township for the pull.  Instruction and all supplies will be provided, and all ages are welcome.  IMG_2591

Volunteers will meet at the Paint Creek Cider Mill, 4480 Orion Road, Oakland Township, MI 48306 starting at 9:00am to get their supplies and directions to the sites.  In addition, lunch will be provided for all participants.  “This is a great way to celebrate National Trails Day.  The Paint Creek Trail is the first non-motorized rail-to-trail in the State of Michigan, and is known for its natural beauty.  Our trail users take ownership of the trail, and want to do what they can to keep it beautiful,” said Jim VanDoorn, President, Friends of the Paint Creek Trail.  The Paint Creek Trailways Commission will be reporting how many bags they pull to The Stewardship Network as part of their Garlic Mustard Challenge 2016 (https://www.stewardshipnetwork.org/garlic-mustard-challenge).  Interested volunteers can register online at http://paintcreektrail.org/wordpress/garlic-mustard-pull or can email manager@paintcreektrail.org for more information.

Check out the Spring Wildflowers at the Volunteer Workday Tomorrow, May 9 at Lost Lake Nature Park

The spring ephemeral wildflowers won’t last long with the heat! Come out the Lost Lake Nature Park tomorrow morning from 9 am – 12 pm to help remove glossy buckthorn seedlings and garlic mustard to make sure our native plants have space to grow. Check out detailed information below. The workday will be cancelled if we have heavy rain or lightning. Here are a few teaser pictures… don’t miss it!

Hepatica flowers are almost done for the year, but you'll get to see their fuzzy leaves!
Hepatica flowers are almost done for the year, but you’ll get to see their fuzzy leaves!
Trilliums emerged looking better than ever after the recent prescribed fire.
Trilliums emerged looking better than ever after the recent prescribed fire.
  • Where: We’ll meet in the parking lot near the sled hill. Look for the Parks pickup truck.
  • When: Saturday, May 9, 2015, 9 am to 12 pm. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be cancelled.
  • Who: Anyone! This event is free, with no experience necessary. We’ll train you to do the work.
  • Why: Help keep the park beautiful! We will be pulling glossy buckthorn and garlic mustard. We will be competing in the Garlic Mustard Challenge (https://garlicmustardchallenge.wordpress.com/), so help us get a big haul! Come out on Saturday to enjoy beautiful areas and hang out with great people! The weather looks great too!
  • 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.

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.

This Week at Bear Creek: Frogs, Turtles, and Snakes – Oh My!

Look for this feature early each week! Cam Mannino shares her latest observations, photos, and inspirations from Bear Creek Nature Park. Thanks Cam!


April 5-11, 2015

Cam at Bear Creek Nature Park.
Post and photos by Cam Mannino

What a week for amphibians and reptiles! One of the best features of Bear Creek Nature Park is its vernal pools. These temporary pools appear from runoff in the spring and slowly evaporate with warmer weather. Vernal pools are perfect places for spring frogs – plenty of water and no fish to eat their eggs! So the park is now filled with their music.

Those of you who live near Bear Creek no doubt are being serenaded each night by the Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) tiny (1”-1.5”) nocturnal frogs that trill and hunt all night long. This one was sleeping on a leaf but woke when its picture was taken a few years ago.

Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)
Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)

During the day, Chorus Frogs and Wood Frogs carry on the concert. Last Saturday, Wood Frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) floated in the pool near Gunn Road. They pulse their sides to emit a duck-like croak and propel themselves forward in the water looking for mates.

Wood frog makes circles in the water.
Wood frog makes circles in the water.

I spent an hour trying to spot a Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata) from the small bridge over the vernal pool just north of the playground. Their piercing, ratchety calls literally made my ears ring as I scanned the web of branches in the dark water. Finally I saw this tiny male’s vocal sack ballooning beneath his bulging eyes as he sang. Quite a thrill!

Chorus frog mid cheep
Chorus frog mid cheep
Chorus frog full cheep
Chorus frog full cheep

As amphibians emerged from the mud at the edge or bottom of vernal ponds, reptiles were seeking spring sunlight. Like amphibians, they are cold-blooded animals which can’t regulate their body temperature. So basking is important. A graceful Eastern Garter Snake slipped off the warm path and under a log as I approached.

Eastern garter snake
Eastern garter snake

And a Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) let its dark shell absorb the heat near the center pond.

Painted turtle
Painted turtle

Near the marsh, a tiny Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) spiraled up a trunk, hunting with its long, curved beak for spiders and insects in the bark. It moves like a nuthatch, but is smaller (4-5”). Here it is from a distance.

Brown creeper at Bear Creek
Brown creeper at Bear Creek

The Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) is often the first butterfly to appear in Bear Creek, having probably overwintered in tree bark. It can survive before the flowers bloom because it feeds on tree sap and decaying material. This Saturday’s Mourning Cloak fluttered off into the bushes, but here’s a slightly tattered one from later in a previous season.

Mourning cloak
Mourning cloak

And a favorite species appeared in the park again this week, a small flock of human volunteers who worked steadily and diligently pulling large patches of sprouting Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata ) just south of the parking lot.

A second-year garlic mustard plant rosette early in the spring.
A second-year garlic mustard plant rosette early in the spring.

By eliminating this leathery-leaved invasive plant near the parking lot and trailhead, Ben hopes to prevent their seeds from being tracked into the park on the unsuspecting feet of park visitors. Many thanks to this cheerful, hard-working crew for a thorough job!

(L to R) Debbie, Ben, Eric, Mackenzie, Colton, and Karla pulled 5 bags of garlic mustard and dame's rocket!
(L to R) Debbie, Ben, Eric, Mackenzie, Colton, Karla, and Cam (not pictured) pulled 5 bags of garlic mustard and dame’s rocket!

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.

 

Cold weather activities: sharing invasive species data

The early November cold snap and snow barrage slowed down my outdoor work last week, so I sat down to start the winter activity of data entry and updating records. Doesn’t sound as exciting as chopping away at buckthorn or ripping out garlic mustard with your bare hands, but keeping good records of invasive species locations helps us efficiently find and treat patches each year.

We collect information on the location, area, and density of invasive plant species during the growing season using GPS units and enter it into our Geographic Information System (GIS). We use the  data ourselves at Oakland Township Parks, but I believe that sharing this information can help fight invasive species not just in Oakland Township, but in Oakland County, Michigan, the Upper Great Lakes, and throughout the US. So I registered for an account with the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) and worked with them to upload 1657 records of invasive species from our parks in Oakland Township. Their website states that “The Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) is a regional data aggregation effort to develop and provide an early detection and rapid response (EDRR) resource for invasive species in the Midwest region of the United States.” By catching invasive species early, control measures are much more cost effective and have a better chance of success (see this earlier post to learn more). We only have patchy records for most of our invasive species because they are nearly ubiquitous throughout the parks (for example, glossy buckthorn and autumn olive). Two species that we have fairly complete coverage of include garlic mustard and Phragmites, fairly recent arrivals in the parks.

Garlic Mustard

Most of those records were garlic mustard (1315 records) that resulted from stewardship staff combing parks each spring to locate patches of this invasive plant. The map below shows the distribution of the garlic mustard records in Michigan. These maps probably reflect two things: 1) the actual occurrence of the species and 2) monitoring effort. It is hard to separate the two, so I usually interpret these maps as just broad scale patterns of occurrence.

GarlicMustard_Michigan
Records of garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) in Michigan, according to the MISIN database. The larger the symbol, the more records from that region. This map indicates that the most garlic mustard is found in the Detroit area and just south of Traverse City.
GarlicMustard_OT
Zooming in to Oakland Township, you can see several “epicenters” of records for garlic mustard. These epicenters reflect the areas with high monitoring effort, our township parks.
GarlicMustard_BCNP
Zooming in again to Bear Creek Nature Park, we start to get an idea of the distribution of garlic mustard at a fine scale within the park. The map indicates that most of the garlic mustard is found on the south side of the park and around the borders. These are the areas that have a greater history of disturbance. The cluster of points in the bottom left is the wooded area next to the Paint Creek Heritage Area Wet Prairie along the Paint Creek Trail
GarlicMustard_BCNP_Details
MISIN is cool because you can click on a point and see details about the area and density of an invasive species patch. This patch in Bear Creek Nature Park has an area of less than 1000 feet, with patchy density.

To check out the distribution of garlic mustard in other Oakland Township parks, just head over to http://www.misin.msu.edu/. Click on “Browse data,” then search by species. You can also help us pull garlic mustard next spring. Check out the workdays at this link, and put them on your calendar!

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!

Phragmites

Phragmites might be a terrible invasive species, but it is easy to spot! During August and September 2014 the stewardship crew treated 10.5 acres of Phragmites in Oakland Township parks. Those 10.5 acres represent all the Phragmites patches we had records for at the time (I found a few more since September), so our Phragmites records are fairly complete within our parks.

Phragmites in Oakland Township. Notice that the locations generally correspond to the township parks. The township parks probably don't have more Phragmites than the surrounding areas, but they have been surveyed more completely.
Phragmites in Oakland Township. Notice that the locations generally correspond to the township parks. The township parks probably don’t have more Phragmites than the surrounding areas, but they have been surveyed more completely.
Gallagher Creek Park has some of our largest Phragmites patches. This map shows the distribution of those patches in the park.
Gallagher Creek Park has some of our largest Phragmites patches. This map shows the distribution of those patches in the park.

We can’t target invasive species for treatment unless we know that they exist! If you’d like to help us get complete records of Phragmites in Oakland Township, download the free MISIN app for your smart phone. It’s easy to use, and it only takes a few minutes to add a point. To make it even better, Phragmites is easy to see in the winter when the leaves are off the trees. Put your smartphone to work today to help our parks!

Phragmites along Mead Rd. at O'Connor Nature Park.
Phragmites along Mead Rd. at O’Connor Nature Park in summer 2014. With persistent treatment, we hope that this patch will be gone in a few years.