The call for help went out on a Friday.
By Monday morning, a group of passionate nature lovers who are part of Roseville’s Volunteer Stewardship Program huddled in the middle of a beautiful blooming prairie at Reservoir Woods Park ready to work.
The meadow, flush with black-eyed Susans, purple bergamot blooms, and tall grasses, feels wild and effortless.
It’s actually taken years of labor and patience to reestablish the prairie habitat at one of Roseville’s most natural and scenic parks. Now a fast-growing interloper was threatening that progress – creating a sense of urgency for the work ahead.
Senior Ecologist Paul Bockenstedt laid out the mission: Remove by hand hundreds of Japanese hedge parsley plants that have taken root in the prairie restoration area. Bockenstedt held up the plant – tiny white clusters of flowers on long, thin grass-like stalks. Volunteers, joined by Roseville Parks and Recreation staff, began pulling and piling the plants.
The goal is to make sure invasive species don’t choke out the flourishing native prairie plants, Parks Superintendent Jim Taylor explained.
It’s a relentless battle that volunteers tackle throughout the growing season. They’ve also removed buckthorn, garlic mustard, and thistle. Bockenstedt said, under the right circumstances, hand pulling is preferred over spot-treating invasive plants. This minimizes the risk of damage to native plants and the pollinators that feed there.
“Volunteers are hugely important and Roseville has a stellar volunteer program,” added Bockenstedt. “It’s one of the best in the region.”
The Volunteer Stewardship Program has been integral in implementing the city’s long-range Natural Resources Management Plan, crafted for five parks including 115-acre Reservoir Woods.
“A historic aerial photograph from the 1930s shows this area was once completely open. It was all prairie. That is what we are trying to get back to,” Paul said.
“This has been quite a work in progress. When the project started in March 2016 there was so much brush and invasives that you couldn’t stand upright. When those were taken out, there was a lot of bare ground underneath but some native plants were still present.”
There was some supplemental enrichment seeding to try and complement the existing native vegetation.
“The city has done a great job. It’s been super successful. It's been really valuable for a lot of pollinators,” said Paul, noting that he now sees bees and butterflies including the great spangled fritillary.
Roseville resident and retired naturalist Anna Newton is part of the Volunteer Stewardship crew. She enjoys walking through Reservoir Woods and she noticed the invasive plants.
“The first couple of times we walked in here, I wasn’t seeing much. All of a sudden, I started seeing garlic mustard and there was more and more. I thought, I can do something about this so I did,” Anna said.
“You need those native plants for native bees. They need those succession of blooms. It’s all tied together. It’s all connected.”
Click here to learn more about the Volunteer Stewardship Program.