Stewardship Work Days at Aububon’s Harris Preserve Sat 9 April AM and Tues 12 April early PM

Saturday 9 April 2011 is the first Harris Sanctuary (Audubon Society of Kalamazoo) stewardship day, or to be blunt, first work day.  Hours are 9-11 AM.

The second work day is Tuesday, April 12, hours 5:30-7:30 PM.

Anyone who has an interest in the sanctuary and its management is invited to join in the effort on one or both dates.

The other two spring workdays are Saturday April 23, 9-11 AM and Wednesday April 27, 5:30-7:30 PM.

The Mildred Harris Sanctuary is located in the southwest corner of F Ave. and 8th St. in Alamo Township, Kalamazoo County.

What we can accomplish depends on how many people show up.  On this first work day of the year, someone should walk the roads that border the 40-acre property and pick up any debris that has built up over the winter.  When Katy and I visited Thursday morning, there seemed to be no major accumulation.

One change last year in our approach to management included brushhogging along the edge of the forest.  The preserve is roughly 50:50 beech-maple forest (west side) and grassland (old hayfield, on the east side). The one place where garlic mustard is abundant is in the areas along the forest edge occupied by dense growths of raspberries and blackberries or multiflora rose.  Large segments of these all but impenetrable thickets have been mowed down enough that they are not quite impenetrable, hence open for garlic mustard control.

One major task that we will begin Saturday will be attacking the somewhat exposed garlic mustard.  This will be by spraying, daubing with glyphosate, and pulling.  The second and third will be done by the volunteers who show up.

Someone can walk through the beech-maple forest looking for garlic mustard plants, which will mostly be visible as basal clumps of leaves.  In the woods itself only occasional individual or small clusters of plants will be found. Flagging any plants spotted can be followed up on later trips by careful pulling with the pulled plants carried away in bags.

In the brushhogged strip along the edge of the wood, the stubs left over from the larger trees and clubs could be lopped off at ground level to reduce the likelihood of tripping and falling by stewards and other visitors and daubed with glyphosate to discourage resprouting.

Brushhogging was also done in the field.  About one-third of the field was mowed last summer.  We will be interested in how many of the woody invaders resprout as the spring and summer go along.  It’s possible that brushhogging one-third of the field every year, so that the whole area is mowed every three years could keep the shrubs and trees stunted enough that the field area remains effectively a grassland.

One more task that we need to tackle sometime this year is the Mildred Harris Sanctuary sign.  It needs, at a minimum, repainting of the routed letters.  A thorough renovation of the sign, including repainting is another possibility.  A third, if there should be a woodworker with skill at routing, would be a totally new sign.

Katy and I will see you at 8th and F Saturday morning and/or Tuesday early evening. Park around the corner on F Ave. Bring work gloves and any tools you favor.  We’ll have some lopping shears, glyphosate, vinyl disposable gloves, and plastic bags.