Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2011 Gorge Leadership Team

The Gorge Leadership Team, now in its third season, has expanded the range of their efforts to include sites on the St. Paul side of the river gorge. This year they had outings at Hidden Falls and Crosby Parks in St. Paul, in addition to working at the 36th Street oak savanna in Minneapolis.

St. Paul's Parks and Recreation Department asked for the team's help caring for a spring ephemeral patch at Hidden Falls Park. The team spent the evening removing narrowleaf bittercress, an invasive species that has only recently been reported in Minnesota but that is spreading at an alarming rate along the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers.

Narrowleaf bittercress, photo courtesy of MN Dept. of Ag.

They also pitched in at the prairie restoration project at Crosby Park, and helped tend the demonstration native prairie garden. The native grasses and flowers planted in 2008 have done really well, but so have the weeds! A small, experienced group of volunteers like the team, working with FMR's ecologist Karen Schik to decipher what was what, was just what was needed at the site.

Members of the Gorge Leadership Team pose in front of the mountain of weeds they pulled from the demonstration prairie at Crosby Park. Photo courtesy of Karen Solas.

The team again had an important role in the management of the oak savanna, prairie bowl, and oak woodland at 36th St & W. River Parkway in Minneapolis. They continued their vigilant work to keep garlic mustard and buckthorn from taking hold, and tackled numerous other outcroppings of invasives, like sweet clover and reed canary grass. Some team members also helped remove graffiti from interpretive signage, while others freed dogwood trees from smothering grapevines.

Team member Sara Muchoswki removes graffiti from an interpretive sign at the oak savanna. Photo courtesy of Karen Solas.

While the team's outings may be over for the season, many team members will be helping out at FMR's remaining public volunteer events, in the river gorge and beyond. These volunteers put in an average of 20 hours a season caring for the river, improving habitat and water quality. A huge thank you goes out to all the 2011 Gorge Leadership Team members for your incredible dedication and hard work!

Team members Michelle Garvey and Fred Tyler remove sweet clover from the oak savanna. Photo courtesy of Karen Solas.

Black swallowtail nectaring on sunflower at the 36th St. oak savanna. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Carr.

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