May 21, 2020 - Spring is here, and aggressive non-native plants are spreading and outcompeting native plants. Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation (NAP) notes that we are also currently within the seasonal window for targeting these types of invasive plants: warm enough for plants to emerge but not too late or seeds will be spread. NAP needs your help!
For the first time ever, NAP is hosting a virtual spring invasives pull. Garlic Mustard Weed-out Week (GMWOW), sunrise to sunset Friday, May 22–Sunday, May 31, is an opportunity for individuals or members of the same household to remove spring invasive species from their own yards or from city-owned nature areas. Removing garlic mustard will allow native plants and wildflowers to thrive, encouraging the diversity of native wildlife, from small mammals to butterflies. This event also serves as a reminder of the importance to only use plants native to southeast Michigan in local yards and gardens.
Don't let your hard work go unnoticed
After you've pulled to your heart's content, don't forget to report your efforts here in Ann Arbor to The Stewardship Network Spring Invasive Species Challenge at https://spring.stewardshipnetwork.org/! Please enter “NAP" in the “affiliation" box, and input the address where you pulled, or the name of the park if you pulled at a City of Ann Arbor nature area, when you record your efforts. The Stewardship Network is a non-profit organization focused on fostering collaborative conservation, and is NAP's partner to track Ann Arbor's information. By reporting how much you've pulled, you help to not only see the collective impact across the globe, but also to track these important ecological practices closely here in Ann Arbor!
In addition, take pictures of yourself pulling together separately and post with the tag #GMWOW. Tag NAP @ann.arbor.nap on Facebook and @a2NAP on Twitter! Share this opportunity with your friends and neighbors, but keep in mind that this is an individual activity. NAP appreciates any time spent removing invasive plants from your yard and/or city-owned nature areas!
Tips for participating in GMWOW
Follow the safety guidelines and best practices.
Stay at least 6 feet apart from any person that is not part of your household. GMWOW is not a group event, it is intended for individuals and single families.
Do not share gloves, bags, snacks or anything else with any person who is not part of your household.
Do not touch any plants that have been pulled by someone outside of your household.
If you feel sick, stay home.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
If pulling at a nature area, bring a tote bag, garbage bag or other carrying device with you to remove the invasive plants from the park.
Dress in long pants, thick enough to stand up to thorns, brush, poison ivy, ticks and mosquitoes (leggings aren't very protective); closed-toe shoes that can stand up to mud; gardening gloves; a face mask/cover; and clothes you don't mind getting dirty.
Look for these spring invasive plants, like garlic mustard and dame's rocket, which thrive in woodlands and savannas. Visit www.a2gov.org/GMWOW for pictures and identification tips.
Garlic mustard (alliaria petiolata).
Dame's rocket (hesperis matronalis).
Narrow-leaf bittercress (cardamine impatiens).
Make sure to pull the entire plant, root and all. If roots are left behind, they can resprout in the soil.
This time of season, most garlic mustard should be in bloom.
Once the plants are pulled, place them into a garbage bag or other bag you have at home. Once your bag(s) are filled, take them home for proper disposal:
City-collected compost bin.
City-collected trash bin.
Call NAP if neither of these options work for you.
Do NOT place these plants in home compost piles — those do not get hot enough to kill weed seeds.
General field safety:
If you're stopping to pull plants, enjoy the birds, wildflowers or just the beautiful weather.
Try not to trample vegetation.
Carefully move 6 feet off the trail to allow other park users to pass at a safe distance.
Be aware of uneven footing, rocks, slopes and slippery terrain. Keep an eye out for branches, thorns and fallen trees caught in the canopy (don't stand under them!).
Familiarize yourself with poison ivy. Please refer to Michigan State University's poison ivy web page for details.
Check yourself for ticks within 24 hours of leaving the park (or your yard). There are a variety of tick species in Washtenaw County, including the black-legged tick that can transmit lyme disease. Be aware of insects when in the field: bees, wasps, mosquitoes, etc. Use bug spray.
Stay inside if there is a thunderstorm or heavy winds. But it's OK to pull if it is just raining!
Stay hydrated and protected from the sun. Bring a water bottle with you, and consider sunscreen. Do not overexert yourself. Have fun!
Spending time in nature is a great way to safely and comfortably be outside while still remaining distanced from others. Caring for local habitats instills a sense of home and community as well as a chance to learn more about the small world we live in together. Even though we are pulling separately, we are working together to make Ann Arbor a more beautiful place for everyone!
NAP works to protect and restore Ann Arbor's natural areas and to foster an environmental ethic among its citizens. This involves conducting plant and animal inventories, ecological monitoring and stewardship projects in Ann Arbor parks. These tasks are performed year round by both staff and volunteers. Follow NAP on Facebook @ann.arbor.nap and Twitter @a2NAP for updates. For more information about NAP, visit www.a2gov.org/NAP.
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