Over recent years, a high amount of invasive species have been sprouting throughout the Sturgeon River Watershed. WE Energies Mitigation Enhancement Fund has given the Dickinson Conservation District a grant to conduct an invasive species survey of the river to analyze the extent of the infestations.
??We suspected that there were a fair amount of invasive species in that area,?? says DCD Project Manager, Ann Hruska.
Common Buchthorn, Japanese Barberry and Autumn Olive are only a few of the more common terrestrial invasive species that Sturgeon River Watershed landowners have spotted sprouting in recent years. Ann says the infestations are a result of ornamental planting.
??If you plant it anywhere near a forested land, it tends to escape, and this is something we only just realized in the last several years,?? Hruska says.
These plants are capable of completely consuming a forest and are threatening the native ecosystem.
??When you lose even the smallest member of the ecosystem, the wild flowers around the forest floor, you disrupt the food chain in a whole bunch of ways you can??t even picture,?? Hruska adds.
Taylor Jayne is one of the field technicians hired to start conducting the land surveys. He travels by foot and kayak to identify, quantify and map the infestations.
??When we see invasive species, we get out of the kayak, we take a GPS point so we can put it on the map later,?? says Jayne. ??We're going to analyze the map and see where the most problem areas are, and those are areas we're going to assess with the treatment.??
Taylor will document approximately 50 miles of river corridor this summer and then prioritize which to treat first.
Treating areas next year is only half the battle. Staff will have to continue monitoring them to preserve a sustainable ecosystem.