Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Updated: Volunteers help rid local beaches of invasive knapweed; presentation on invasives to be Sept. 29

By Michele Bourdieu

Botanist Janet Marr, left, helped McLain State Park with a project recently funded by the UP Resource Conservation and Development Council -- removing invasive spotted knapweed from areas of the Park in order to protect the beach from its spread. Here she is pictured with volunteers who helped collect these bags full of the invasive plant on July 30, 2011: from left, Marr; Jason Oyadomari, Finlandia University biology professor; Steve Albee of Hancock; Michigan Tech forestry student Alex Mehne; Chuck Mehne, Alex's Dad,visiting from Kalamazoo; and Lee Verberkmoes, McLain State Park superintendent. Marr will join Erik Lilleskov, research ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service, in a presentation on invasive species Thursday, Sept. 29, at Michigan Tech. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)

HOUGHTON -- Janet Marr, contract botanist for the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District, will join Erik Lilleskov, research ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service, in presenting "Invasive Species as Agents of Global Change," from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 29, in Noblet 143 of Michigan Tech's Forestry building.

The presentation -- free and open to the public -- will offer the opportunity to
  • Explore the global impact of altered ecosystems
  • Find out about invasive species in the Copper Country
  • Learn how to identify invasive plants of the Western U.P. which threaten the biodiversity of the Keweenaw.
  • Discover how you can help control their spread and protect our native plants.
This event is sponsored by the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society, Keweenaw Land Trust and the Keweenaw Unitarian Fellowship.

Photos: Pulling Knapweed at McLain State Park

Volunteers assist Botanist Janet Marr, center, in pulling invasive spotted knapweed at McLain State Park on July 30, 2011.

Janet Marr, left, and volunteers pull invasive knapweed from a hillside area near the breakwater at McLain State Park. In the foreground, second from right, is Lee Verberkmoes, McLain State Park superintendent, who worked with Marr in securing funding from the UP Resource Conservation and Development Council for spotted knapweed mapping, control/removal, and restoration in this popular Lake Superior lakeshore park.

Alex Mehne, left, Michigan Tech forestry student active in the Botany Club, invited his Dad, Chuck Mehne, who was visiting from Kalamazoo, to join the group of volunteers at the McLain State Park knapweed pull on July 30, 2011 -- a father-and-son shared effort for a Saturday morning in the Keweenaw! Alex also assisted Janet Marr with her garlic mustard removal campaigns in area neighborhoods this summer.

Steve Albee of Hancock helps Janet Marr carry a bag of knapweed up the hill to be disposed of by McLain State Park. Note protective gloves volunteers like Alex Mehne, at left, are wearing. "Spotted knapweed has a substance that is an irritant, and gloves, long sleeve shirts, and long pants should be worn," Marr advises.

Spotted knapweed on the beach at McLain State Park. This invasive plant loves dry areas and must be pulled straight up to remove the roots. It also grows along roadsides all around the Keweenaw and spreads rapidly. (Photo © and courtesy Janet Marr)

The restoration aspect of the McLain State Park knapweed removal project will include planting more of this protective dunegrass. (Photo © and courtesy Janet Marr)

Picnic and knapweed pull at Bete Grise Preserve

Members of the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District and the Stewards of Bete Grise Preserve met for a knapweed pull, picnic and presentation by Janet Marr on Aug. 1, 2011, at the Bete Grise Preserve. They collected several bags full of the invasive plant, growing mostly along the Gay-Lac LaBelle Road. Pictured here, from left, are volunteers Evan McDonald, Chuck Brumleve, Gina Nicholas, Mark Klemp, Sue Haralson (in front of Mark), Anton Pintar, Paul and Anita Campbell, Joanne Thomas and Nick Wilson. The event was also sponsored by the Rapid Response Invasive Plant Intervention Team of the UP (RRIP-IT-UP) and organized by Sue Haralson, Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District administrator.

Gina Nicholas and Chuck Brumleve, both residents of Bete Grise, pull spotted knapweed plants along the Gay-Lac LaBelle Road at the Bete Grise Preserve.

After a potluck picnic at the Bete Grise Preserve beach, volunteers listen as Botanist Janet Marr demonstrates the best way to loosen the roots of invasive knapweed with a narrow tool. "The smaller the blade the better (that'll help assure less disturbance to the ground and exposure of seeds from the seedbank)," Marr explains. At far left is Cynthia McDonald (not pictured above), who also joined the group.

Janet Marr displays a sample of Centaurea (a relative of spotted knapweed) during her presentation at Bete Grise.

Despite the attractive flowers, this plant, Hypericum perforatum (commonly called St. John's wort), is also invasive.

Janet Marr displays some Hypochaeris radicata, also known as a false dandelion, or hairy cat's ear.

Learn more about these invasive plants and what you can do to help protect the ecology of the Keweenaw from their spread by attending the presentation by Janet Marr and Erik Lilleskov from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, in Noblet 143 of Michigan Tech's Forestry building.

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