Tag Archives: Volunteer Workday

Seed Collecting: Using Nature’s Way of Restocking

In October we’ve been collecting native plant seed in our parks. After all the work of growing, flowering, and making seed, plants have one more task for the year: dispersing the seed. Fluffy seeds ride the wind, buoyant seeds float on water, tasty seeds ride in the guts of animals, and “sticker” seeds cling to animal fur (or your favorite pair of socks!). And a few seeds ride in the paper bags of industrious humans! So it’s all hands on deck to collect seed during harvest time!

Stiff Goldenrod (Solidago rigida) just starting to form its seed. This is an example of seeds that are not quite mature enough to collect yet.

We collect native seeds to continue our natural areas restoration work throughout the parks. In 2019 we spread quite a bit of seed at Charles Ilsley Park, Stony Creek Ravine Nature Park, and Bear Creek Nature Park in areas where we had removed invasive shrubs. The competition from native plants helps prevent non-native species from coming back. We also spread native plant seed after controlled burns to help increase plant diversity in an area.

We try to remove only about one-third of the available seed for any of our target species. We want to leave enough seed to maintain healthy populations of native plants, while also providing food for birds and other wildlife. If the area is large enough we collect from many different plants to ensure that our seed has lots of genetic diversity.

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We collect seed on a small scale, so we mostly harvest by hand. For some plants we simply snip the dried inflorescence from the plant, collecting the entire seed head. This method works best for species that are very tough and difficult to remove by hand (Black-eyed Susan), and for plants with seed that might shake off easily (asters). We also strip seed from the stem by hand. We use this method for many grasses when the seeds are mature and easy to remove from the stem. We place the collected seed in paper bags so that it can dry without molding or rotting.

Volunteers in various stages of seed cleaning in 2018.

After the seed dries we clean it so that it is easier to mix and spread. We remove the seeds from the seed heads, pods, or other “fruits,” and winnow out any excess plant material. We only need the seed clean enough to combine with other species in seed mixes. We aren’t too worried about some extra leaves, stems, and other chaff.  Our end product is a nice bag of seed packaged in plastic bag to keep extra moisture out.

Alyssa with our stock of native plant seed from 2018.

We are almost finished collecting seed for the season since most of the plants have dispersed their seeds. Keep an eye out for next year’s fall newsletter to see which days we will be collecting seed in 2020. If you are interested in helping us this year, we have a seed cleaning work day on December 3, 2019 from 12:30 – 3:30 pm at Watershed Ridge Park (1720 W. Buell Rd). If you have any questions about this work day or any questions about seed collecting don’t hesitate to ask!

Get Outside! September Nature and Stewardship Events

Color is touching the edges of some tree leaves, goldenrods color entire fields yellow, and the days are getting shorter. Maybe it will even get cooler some time soon! Either way, don’t miss the beauty of September – plan now to get outside this month by participating in our nature programs or stewardship events.

Nature Programs

Check out the Nature Programs page on the Parks website for the full list of events this fall. In addition to a Morning Hike Out at Cranberry Lake Park on September 16 and the Harvest Moon Walk on September 26, you really won’t want to miss the Fall Mushrooms of Michigan program on September 13.

The Fall Mushrooms of Michigan program from 1-3 pm on September 13 will be at Lost Lake Nature Park (846 Lost Lake Trail) and led by Phil Tedeschi from the Michigan Mushroom Nature Club! This program is for adults 18+ ($5 residents, $7 non-residents). Register as soon as possible (call 248-651-7810)! Here’s the description from our fall newsletter:

Take a tour of the amazing world of mushrooms. We will learn about where they grow while inspecting numerous samples up close. Discover the many types of mushrooms in Michigan in this unique and very practical program from a mushroom expert. We'll take a walk (no picking) to search for mushrooms in the park too! There is no substitute for the excellent opportunity of doing mushroom hunting with a true mushroom expert!

What kind of mushrooms are these? Attend the class to find out!
What kind of mushrooms are these? Attend the class to find out!

Bird Walks

We visit different parks every week on Wednesday morning at 8 am. Walks last about 1 to 1.5 hours. Join us as we find new birds passing through during fall migration. We have some binoculars available if you don’t have your own. In addition to honing your bird identification skills, we’ll also give you tips on the latest apps for identifying birds and citizen science. Here’s the schedule for the rest of September:

  • September 9, Cranberry Lake Park
  • September 16, Lost Lake Nature Park
  • September 23, Draper Twin Lake Park
  • September 30, Charles Ilsley Park

Sandhill cranes on the shores of Lost Lake Nature Park.
Sandhill cranes on the shores of Lost Lake Nature Park.

Bear Creek Nature Park Invasive Shrub Control

We will be working to remove invasive shrubs like buckthorn, autumn olive, and privet from our special natural areas at Bear Creek (meet in the Snell Rd parking lot). Join us from 9 am to 12 pm. SEPTEMBER 8 WORKDAY HAS BEEN CANCELLED. We still hope to be out there on September 15, 22, and 29. Hope to see you there!

SE Michigan Summer Conservation Corps crew, Bear Creek Nature Park, July 2014.
SE Michigan Summer Conservation Corps crew, Bear Creek Nature Park, July 2014.

July Park of the Month: Draper Twin Lake Park

Draper Twin Lake Park hosts Sandhill Cranes, Eastern Meadowlarks, a variety of sparrows, and lots of cool wildlife. This fall we will be planting native prairie species into the field on the northeast corner of Draper Twin Lake Park. Our goal for the July workdays is to remove autumn olive and other non-native invasive plants in the fields on the east side of the park to improve habitat for wildlife and prepare for our prairie planting (learn more by clicking HERE). Hope to see you there!

  • Where: Draper Twin Lake Park. Meet in the parking lot on the corner of Hadden and Inwood, 1015 Inwood Rd.

  • When:  All workdays are 9 am to noon. In the event of inclement weather, the events will be cancelled.
    • Saturday, July 11
    • Tuesday, July 14
    • Tuesday, July 21
    • Saturday, July 25
    • Tuesday, July 28
  • Who: Anyone! These event is free, with no experience necessary. We’ll train you to do the work. You’ll get to work with our stewardship field crew so that you can learn how to manage invasive plants on your own land!
  • Why: Why not? We will be remove non-native invasive shrubs to help the native plants thrive. Come out to enjoy beautiful areas and hang out with great people!
  • 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.

 

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.

Paint Creek Heritage Area – Wet Prairie Volunteer Workday this Saturday, 9 am – noon!

Come to the Paint Creek Heritage Area – Wet Prairie this weekend to help with natural areas stewardship! This park along the Paint Creek Trail has a rich variety of plant species in a unique prairie area. We will stroll through the prairie to learn a little bit about its history and the plants growing in it. We will then be pulling spotted knapweed in the prairie and cutting invasive woody shrubs from nearby areas to keep them from crowding out the sun-loving prairie plants. We may also collect some seeds if they are ready for harvesting.

  • Where: Paint Creek Heritage Area – Wet Prairie. Meet in the parking lot at Silverbell Road along the Paint Creek Trail. If the parking lot full, you can park at the Paint Creek Cider Mill and walk south 5 minutes on the trail to the prairie area. Remember that the bridge on Orion Road between Snell Rd and Collins Rd is closed.

  • When: Saturday, July 26 from 9 am – noon. 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. Most tasks are relaxing and do not require an Olympic athlete.
  • 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 water and a few gloves if you can’t bring your own.

We will have light snacks and water available. 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.