Volunteer Day: Goose Creek Grasslands – June 27

MNA is offering members social media as a way to connect with other members and to provide a glimpse of MNA Stewardship. This new online element showcases issues of interest concerning stewardship efforts through the eyes of those on the ground.

by Matt Schultz, MNA Western Regional Stewardship Organizer

What happens at a volunteer day at an MNA sanctuary?  A lot!

Volunteers do a lot of stewardship work at MNA sanctuaries. Volunteering is also a good opportunity for community members to learn a few things about a natural area in their neighborhood and help manage preserves.

Volunteers saw pitcher plant in addition to others while working in Goose Creek Grasslands Sanctuary-Photo by Matt Schultz.

A typical volunteer day is a lot like the one held Sunday, June 27 at Goose Creek Grasslands in Lenawee County. Goose Creek is a prairie fen – an alkaline, groundwater-fed wetland that contains many plant and animal species that are uncommon or rare in Michigan.  Fens require active management to ensure that they continue to function properly. One of the most important management elements is to ensure that the prairie fens burn on a regular cycle and that invasive species are kept in check.

This volunteer day focused on controlling two invasive plants that are a big problem in prairie fens: reed canarygrass and glossy buckthorn.

Glossy buckthorn (January 2010 MNA newsletter pages 6-7) is a shrub that invades wetlands, while reed canarygrass prefers wetlands but can also invade uplands.  Like most conservation organizations, MNA relies on the careful use of herbicides to control these invaders. During the volunteer day, Mike Roys and Bruce Hart (who came with a lot of experience working at The Nature Conservancy’s Ives Road Fen), used the cut-and–daub method to attack mature glossy buckthorn. Matt used a backpack sprayer to control young glossy buckthorn and patches of reed canarygrass.

Matt also installed a new sign at the preserve. We would like to thank Consumers Energy for their support.

Grass pink orchid-Photo by Matt Schultz

The volunteer day crew was also treated to some beautiful and characteristic  prairie fen plants, including Kalm’s lobelia, pitcher plant and grass pink orchid.

We also saw the white camas, which was plentiful in the burn unit.

MNA can always use your help at volunteer days!

Check out our schedule of events at www.michigannature.org/home/how_help/calendar.shtml.

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About Michigan Nature Association

The Michigan Nature Association is a non-profit organization that has been dedicated to preserving Michigan’s natural heritage since 1952. MNA protects more than 10,000 acres of land in over 170 nature sanctuaries throughout the state of Michigan, from the tip of Keweenaw in the Upper Peninsula to the Indiana/Ohio border.

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