Saturday, April 28, 2012

Conservation Corps Update: April 25-28

Post contributed by Conservation Corps of Minnesota, Youth Outdoors Crew 2:

Sometimes garlic mustard can be overwhelming!
Without the help of volunteers like you,
it would be much more difficult for us to manage it.
This was the week of garlic mustard. Garlic mustard is an edible invasive species in Minnesota that natural resources managers across the state battle every spring. We spent the week making a big push at both Crosby Farm Park and the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom (CWOC) to knock back the garlic mustard before it could seed.  We used many techniques as part of a comprehensive garlic mustard management plan.

We worked at Crosby Farm Park on Wednesday, hand pulling garlic mustard in order to protect what is one of the best ephemeral plant sites in the city. We chose this method because it protects the diverse native plants that grow here.

On Thursday, we worked with our youth and Saint Paul Parks, hauling buckthorn and hand pulling garlic mustard along Hamline Avenue in the Como Park neighborhood of Saint Paul. This site is looking really great after eliminating most of the buckthorn and garlic mustard, and we're seeing a lot of native species thriving. Saint Paul Parks is hosting a large volunteer event here on Saturday, May 5th from 9am-11am to plant many small native trees and shrubs in this area. It's not too late to register--sign up here!

We were joined by about 40 volunteers from Murray Junior High School on Friday at the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom. With the garlic mustard beginning to flower, we only have a short window left before seeds started to spread, so volunteers this week were crucial. We led the students in hand pulling garlic mustard in a small area of CWOC that had a good population of native plants. We even found a morel mushroom and spotted a great horned owl, right here in the city. These are good indicators that our efforts are helping, and native plants and animals are returning to the site. We continued on Friday afternoon by weed-whipping flowering garlic mustard so that it couldn't seed. Our goal was to do this to all of CWOC so that the seed base was greatly diminished for the coming years. This is part of a management plan for CWOC that will require frequent visits for some time but is very effective.

FedEx volunteers with bags of garlic mustard that they
pulled from the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom
On Saturday, we kicked off a rainy morning with around 40 volunteers, once again hand-pulling garlic mustard at CWOC. A HUGE thank you to the volunteers who braved the weather. There was a group from FedEx, some Peace Corps alumni volunteers, and of course a few dedicated community volunteers. Together we were able to pull out 3 truckbeds FULL of garlic mustard. We got a lot done and had a good time. In the afternoon, we finished off weed-whipping at CWOC, and found two more morel mushrooms! We all finished the week feeling really good about what we had accomplished. There was a noticeable difference in the amount of garlic mustard at the sites we were managing, and we saw many signs that the overall health of these sites was improving.

If you want more information about Crosby Farm or the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom, check them out here: