Spring recap: Three preserves, four workdays, and lots of helping hands!

By Camryn Brent, Huron Pines AmeriCorps Member

It seems like just yesterday we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring, and now, summer is already here!

So where did the time go? That’s an easy answer for me and my fellow Huron Pines AmeriCorps member Ally! Not only were we busy with vernal pool monitoring and preserve stewardship projects, with the help of Preserve Stewardship Manager Kyler Moran, we held four workdays at three different Legacy preserves–Johnson, Beckwith, and Shatter.

Lloyd and Mabel Johnson Preserve

Legacy has been working for many years to remove woody invasive species from the forested areas of Johnson Preserve. More recently, we have been focusing primarily on the hedgerows near the prairie. These forested strips contain invasive woody plants such as common buckthorn and honeysuckle that threaten to expand into the prairie.

In the constant battle to control their spread, we are always looking for new and innovative management methods. Typically, our volunteers help cut the buckthorn and honeysuckle down and then Legacy staff apply herbicide to the stump. But this year our stewardship team is testing out a new herbicide-free method–sheep!

In March and April, two groups of Eastern Michigan University (EMU) students helped cut down the invasive shrubs into a more snackable size for our upcoming four-legged crew members.  And instead of Legacy staff applying herbicide, this fall we will enlist a herd of sheep via Project Mow to eat the buckthorn and honeysuckle sprouts. The sheep will be fenced in around the hedgerow and supervised as they browse the invasive understory plants. 

We’re not sure how our first prescribed grazing experiment will pan out, but we’re excited to watch it unfold. Be sure to check back with us in the fall for updates on the sheep’s progress nibbling away at the resprouts!

A special thank you to Johnson Preserve Steward Chuck SawickI, EMU Sierra Club, and Dr. Maria Goodrich’s biology class!

Beckwith Preserve

In April, volunteers from the Stockbridge Area Wellness Coalition joined us as we continued work to control the invasive garlic mustard plant at Beckwith Preserve.  Picking garlic mustard can be a lonely and overwhelming task, but having other people join in makes the time fly by! It was also nice to meet the people who use the preserve regularly. It makes our work all the more rewarding. 

Thank you again to the Stockbridge community for spending an afternoon with us and clearing out a sizable portion of garlic mustard at the preserve!  

Shatter Family Preserve

We also had the privilege of hosting a Plymouth-based Girl Scout troop at the Shatter Family Preserve in late April. The group of elementary school-age kids and their grown-ups removed glass bottles, containers, and other trash that had been dumped on the preserve decades ago.  When they were done, the kids took home bags full of unique glass pieces they found to create personal garden mosaic tiles and celebrate Earth Day!  We found so many hidden treasures that day. It was a blast to unearth the glass and send everyone home with a mosaic kit with their favorite found pieces. 

Thank you to Brownie Troop 40761 for helping us clean up Shatter Preserve! And a special shout-out to Ally for coming up with this great project and organizing it!

Thanks to the generosity of every volunteer who donated their time and energy this spring our workdays were a success!  Taking care of our preserves is an enormous job and it wouldn’t be possible without their support. Thank you, volunteers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *