First “Weed Wrangle” in the books, mountain bike trails, and a pollinator patch clean-up

It was a beautiful morning for a “Weed Wrangle” with the Southern Indiana Cooperative Invasives Management & Marshall County Soil & Water! Participants last Saturday learned about invasive species & their management, as well as local & regional opportunities to engage in control efforts. Oak saplings were distributed by SWCD.

After a brief gathering, we hit the trails to uproot the Garlic Mustard and Bush Honeysuckle that have encroached on the area. Several native woodland species were observed, including Downy Rattlesnake Plantain & Pale Corydalis.

Pale Corydalis (Corydalis flavula)
Downy rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera pubescens), one of our most common native orchids

Some “wild” cows also made a brief but exciting appearance, but we weren’t fast enough to get a video!

The Wrangle was held at Marshall County Memorial Forest (at SR-17 & 14th Rd). Indiana’s first county forest, it was developed in the 1940’s as a living tribute to the veterans of WW2. Last year, it was put under the stewardship of the Marshall County Parks & Recreation Department.

Speaking of

The mountain bike trail is coming right along. The trail committee has been AMAZING! With an all-volunteer board with no budget (yet), this would not be happening without dedicated volunteers willing to put in time and effort to make it happen. This has to be one of the most unambiguously positive things I’ve ever been involved in the county! Most projects can’t be expected to go this smoothly, but I’ll sure take it when it happens.

To stay up to date, follow The Trails at Mill Pond on Facebook. We are shooting for a soft open next month!

Monday, we came together for a quick spring clean-up blitz at a pollinator patch downtown. This was in coordination with clean-up efforts across the county. Thank you to Marshall County Soil & Water Conservation District and all the other partners who brought this to fruition and are carrying through with maintenance!

sorry, this is my blog so you’re going to have to stand a little dad-brag… I couldn’t be more proud of this little 9 year old!
If you don’t know Allie, you should. Community champion and force for change, she’s one of the brains behind this little pocket park. While other folks busy themselves complaining, she’s busy gearing up to find a way out of no way!

news round-up: spring edition

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) blooms in a cattail marsh at the edge of Lake Galbraith, 5 weeks after a prescribed fire.

Wind Energy Is a Big Business in Indiana, Leading to Awkward Alliances (Inside Climate News, 3/30/21) Hotly debated legislation would open the state to renewable energy projects, trumping local restrictions.

Return the National Parks to the Tribes (The Atlantic) The jewels of America’s landscape should belong to America’s original peoples

… see also: People have shaped most of terrestrial nature for at least 12,000 years (PNAS journal article) With rare exceptions, current biodiversity losses are caused not by human conversion or degradation of untouched ecosystems, but rather by the appropriation, colonization, and intensification of use in lands inhabited and used by prior societies

Nature Curiosity: What Happens to the Animals During a Prescribed Burn? (Forest Preserve District of Will County) At this time of year, the sight of smoke in the distance is quite common, often the result of prescribed burns being conducted throughout the area to strengthen natural habitats for wildlife. Seeing these fires up close can beg the question: What about the animals? How are they faring in these fires?

Milkweed Pollination: A Series of Fortunate Events (The Prairie Ecologist) Most of us know a friend or relative who isn’t content to follow the standard path in life. Why do things the simple easy way when there’s a more complicated option available? Maybe you’re even that person yourself. If so, you’ll appreciate the pollination strategy of milkweed plants.

Debunking a myth about black walnut trees Or, the reason why growing plants under them is so difficult (Livingston County News) It is difficult to grow plants under black walnut trees, many people know this. Science-based sources including Cooperative Extension for years have blamed a toxic substance called jugalone, emitted from these tree roots. However, a recent literature review by horticulture professor Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott at Washington State has determined that this substance isn’t really the culprit.

High-Tech Greenhouse Growing in South Bend (Inside Indiana Business) South Bend-based Pure Green Farms says it is using some of the most advanced technology in the world to create a safe and sustainable environment for year-round farming. In a four-acre hydroponic indoor farm, the company is growing pesticide-free greens that are untouched by human hands until they reach the consumer’s kitchen

Bald Eagle Killer Identified (The Scientist) After a nearly 30-year hunt, researchers have shown that a neurotoxin generated by cyanobacteria on invasive plants is responsible for eagle and waterbird deaths from vacuolar myelinopathy.

Renewables = 20.6% of US Electricity in 2020 (Clean Technica)

Solar Project at North Liberty Elementary School Goes Live Thursday, March 18 (Max 98.3)

What Happened to Pickup Trucks? (Bloomberg) As U.S. drivers buy more full-size and heavy-duty pickups, these vehicles have transformed from no-frills workhorses into angry giants. And pedestrians are paying the price. 

Neonic soil treatment hurts ground-nesting bees, 1st of its kind study finds (CBC) A new study shows the behaviour and reproduction of ground-nesting bees, like those that pollinate squash and pumpkins, is severely impacted when farmers treat the soil with neonicotinoid insecticide at the time of planting.

Madam Secretary (Indian Country) Deb Haaland is confirmed as the country’s Secretary of the Interior, blazing a trail as the first Native American to ever lead a Cabinet agency

Here’s some great drone footage of some prescribed fire that The Nature Conservancy was conducting in NW Indiana.

Armadillos in Indiana? 31st armadillo ever found in the state seen wandering the Toll Road (WSBT, from 2019)

Brood X: Why ‘trillions’ of cicadas set to emerge after 17 years have an ominous sounding name (USA Today) The bugs have been lurking beneath the surface since 2004, feeding on sap from the roots of plants

(see also this 13 min audio piece on Brood X by NPR)