We are unable to host large groups of volunteers right now (we miss you all!), but that doesn’t mean that all stewardship activities have to come to a halt. Here are ways you can support your parks with you’re out on a walk!
Garlic Mustard Removal
In the spring we usually have thousands of volunteers that help us remove garlic mustard. They have helped make some of our parks effectively invasive free. One year loss of garlic work would be a serious setback. For example, it has taken 14 years to deplete the seedbank (the dormant seeds in the soil) at Hager Park. One year of allowing garlic mustard go to seed could result in another 14 years of work!
So, if you are you looking for something easy and tangible to do while you are out enjoying Ottawa County Parks, bring along a bag and pull some garlic mustard along the way!
Watch this video to find out what garlic mustard is and how to do your part to help keep invasive species in check.
Where is garlic mustard located?
Unfortunately garlic mustard is found in many, many places. We’ve included a list below of easy-to-find garlic mustard that you can pull. You can check out this document to see maps of each location – Easy Garlic Mustard Locations for Volunteers
- Connor Bayou – There are populations of garlic mustard at Connor Bayou along the river path and in the northwest corner.
- Hemlock Crossing – The majority of the garlic mustard at Hemlock is found along Croswell St. in a couple of different spots. There is also a dense spot just south of the meadow loop, near the nature center.
- North Ottawa Dunes – The densest garlic mustard populations at North Ottawa Dunes are along the bike path on North Shore Drive.
- Ottawa Sands – Ottawa Sands is a relatively new park to the Ottawa County Parks system. As such, invasive treatments have just started. There is abundant garlic mustard on the east side of the park along with spotty populations along the side of North Shore Drive.
- Pigeon Creek – The most significant garlic mustard population at Pigeon Creek is on the northwest corner of the south ½ of the park. There is another spot on the opposite side of the road, in and around the equestrian parking lot on the north side of Stanton. There are also spots along Pigeon Creek, and along Filmore St. on the north side of Pigeon Creek Forest.
- Riley Trails – There are several garlic mustard populations at Riley Trails. The boundaries along 168th Ave., Riley St., and 160th all have linear populations. There are also GM spots in the southeast corner and around the main parking lot entrance.
- Robinson Forest – The most significant garlic mustard populations at Robinson Forest are in the northeast corner, and the west edge of the property, along 108th Ave.
- Stearns Creek – Stearns Creek is a relatively recent addition to Ottawa County Parks. Management of the invasive species in the park has just begun. There are significant garlic mustard populations in the west portion of the park.
- Tunnel Park – The largest GM population at Tunnel Park is on the southeast side of the top of the dune.
Did you know that acquisition and improvements at Stearns Creek Park were funded in part by private donations? Only a very small percentage of millage funds were used. Learn how to stretch your tax dollars and support your parks through the Ottawa County Parks Foundation.
Oak Savanna Restoration
Sometimes conservation means removing something from the environment to make room for something else to grow. Ottawa County Parks & Recreation has partnered with mi EcoBUZZ to share more information about forest thinning and how it can improve local ecosystems. This year, we’ll be removing trees at Stearns Creek Park in an effort to restore an oak savanna at the park. Learn more about this project by watching the video below. You can also find more information here: news.miottawa.org/oak-savanna-restoration
In addition to the Stewardship News and Resources from Ottawa County Parks above, we also want to share other excellent resources with you. All of the following videos and activities have been reviewed by our Naturalist Team and you can be sure the information is accurate and appropriate for children. Use them to dig deeper as you explore invasive species, parks stewardship, and what it means to be a responsible park user!
Let’s start with the basics! What is an invasive species? Check out this short video to find out what organisms are considered to be invasive and the impact they have on Michigan ecosystems.
While you’re at it, let’s explore some ways that we can help prevent the spread of invasive species into our beautiful ecosystems. Have you ever wondered just how they spread? Check out this short video from the Michigan EGLE that answers that question and more!
Curious? Let’s dig deeper into some of the invasive species that are now found in Michigan. Check out the following web-links for more information.
- Michigan Invasive Species: Learn about the invasive species that can be found in Michigan. The short descriptions of each species can be found in each category from plants, diseases, insects and mammals to fish, mollusks, birds and crustaceans.
- Michigan Watchlist Aquatic Invasive Plants: Use this PDF to help you identify 10 different aquatic plants that are currently being watched for in Michigan waterways.
- Latest information on Invasive and Exotic Species in Michigan: Have you ever wondered what to do if you find an invasive or exotic species? This website will give you an overview of nine different species that are impacting our forest ecosystems.
- Asian Carp on Great Lakes Now: This link contains a short article on grass carp found in the Tittabawassee River near Midland, MI and an informative video about measures that are currently being taken to stop the spread of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes.
- Asian Longhorned Beetle:
- Hemlock Wooly Adelgid: Find out how to identify, report and take action to protect our hemlock trees.
- MSU Extension information on Hemlock Wooly Adelgid: Another resource to learn more about this invasive species that is trying to make its home in Michigan.
Think you know all about invasive species found in Michigan? Ready to test some of your knowledge? Check out the Michigan Invasive Species Virtual Escape Room and see if you can free yourself from the escape room!
Looking for some activities to do? Project Learning Tree has a couple of learning activities and resources that are focused on invasive species.
Did you know that Ottawa County Parks and Recreation employs four-legged crew members that help remove invasive species? Find out more about this work crew and the other important work that our Natural Resource Management department does to ensure we can all enjoy Ottawa County Parks. Ottawa County Natural Resources Management
Looking for an easy way to help out? If you missed our video above, here is another great one from the Michigan DNR that will help you learn how to identify and properly pull garlic mustard. Did you know that you can make pesto out of garlic mustard? Check out this recipe if you find yourself hungry after a day of helping rid our natural spaces of this forest pest!
Leave No Trace
Stewardship is not just about managing invasive species, it is also about caring for our spaces and making sure to leave a park, or your neighborhood (or someone else’s!) better than it was when you arrived. Check out the resources below to find out ways you can be a responsible park user and help us keep our beautiful parks and neighborhoods looking and being their best.
Let’s start with some basics! What is Leave No Trace? Did you know that 9 out of 10 people in the outdoors are uniformed about their impacts? Let’s change that! Here is some background on the Leave No Trace movement and check out the video below to get started on the basics.
Need help remembering the 7 principles of Leave No Trace? This video below might help!
Do you have a favorite recreational activity that you like to participate in at the county parks? Check out the videos below for some specifics for mountain biking, using water craft, trail running, hiking, fort building and walking your dog.
If you are looking for some activities to help you learn about Leave No Trace, or help you teach others about it, check out their K-8 Core Curriculum page. It is filled with great lesson plans and ideas for activities. Also check out the page on Indoor Nature Activities for Kids for some more suggestions!
- Be a Beetle Buster!
- Read a story! The Spotted Bug See if you can create your own spotted bug out of construction paper when you are finished.
- Emerald Ash Borer 3D paper model: Print out and create your own 3D model of an emerald ash borer.
- Hungry Pests kids activity sheet Download and print this activity sheet designed for kids of all ages. Easy to fold and carry in a purse or bag.
- Hoja de actividades para niños (HP kids Activity Sheet Spanish)
- Youth Activity: These three activities use field games, music, and arts and crafts to get kids excited about protecting their environment against the spread of invasive species.
- Leaf What You Find
- Camp At Home
- LNT PEAK Online Course