A Day at Goose Creek

Watching the wind flow through the tall grasses and listening to the birds sing, it is impossible not to let your worries be lifted away and an instant calmness overtake you when you enter Goose Creek Grasslands Sanctuary.

Photo by Carolyn Sundquist

The eight-person volunteer group piled out of our cars and into the beautiful, breezy morning on Monday, July 19.  We were brought together by our desire to help protect MNA’s Goose Creek Grasslands.

The volunteer day, hosted by Eastern Regional Stewardship Organizer, Matt Schultz, had our group working in the northern section of the property removing the invasive glossy buckthorn plant.

Clippers in hand and knee-high boots on our feet, we began our walk to meet up with the other half of the group, who were lucky enough to kayak. They paddled in on Goose Creek, which runs throughout the property and provides an easy, but curvy route to where we were working.

Pitcher Plant

Photo by Carolyn Sundquist

While the walk wasn’t as fast, it was just as enjoyable. We observed native plants such as the pitcher plant, which is carnivorous. Plants have been forced to adapt to the nutrient poor soil in this sanctuary. The pitcher plant, for example, traps curious insects in its pitcher-like leaves. The insect is then stuck at the bottom of the pitcher and digested for its nutrients. Matt also pointed out non-native plants, like the well-known purple loosestrife on the boundaries of the property.

The ground was spongy under my boots as we hiked about half a mile to our destination. I blindly followed Matt through the knee-high terrain, as there wasn’t a direct trail leading us to our work spot.

Photo by Carolyn Sundquist

Once everyone was together again, they worked furiously to cut down the buckthorn bushes with clippers. Once cut down, the herbicide applicator was used on the remaining stumps to prevent re-growth.  Look for the next entry to learn how to make an applicator of your own!

After a quick break for lunch, a spotting of a garter snake climbing a tree, and some more work on the buckthorn, we made our way back to the cars and said our goodbyes.

While we didn’t take care of the entire glossy buckthorn problem at Goose Creek Grasslands Sanctuary, we did put a dent in it. If everyone made a dent, we could keep the buckthorn from invading our rare prairie fen!

Another volunteer day will be happening at Goose Creek Grasslands Sanctuary soon, so keep checking our event calendar!

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