The second week of the Conservation Corps is complete! The Corps did some invasive plant removal, native planting, and had a special guest speaker. We also took them on two separate guided hikes in the Oak Openings Region.
Tuesday the Corps worked at Oak Openings Preserve Metropark in Swanton, Ohio. They started by walking a firebreak, then a horse trail to cut down nonnative woody plants with loppers. The majority of the plants removed were autumn olive whose stumps were then treated with an herbicide to ensure no regrowth. While out at the metropark, we even saw a red-headed woodpecker and walked through lark sparrow nesting habitat! Before heading back to Olander Park they visited the Girdham Road Sand Dunes and learned about the geology of the Oak Openings Region and how sand dunes are formed.
On Wednesday, we had a guest speaker visit us at Olander Park. Dean Houchen of Pheasants Forever talked to us about wildlife conservation throughout the U.S. and showed us pictures of some of the awesome animals that he’s worked with, including horned lizards, rough sage grouse, and mule deer. After Mr. Houchen’s presentation, we headed to Sylvan Prairie Park in Sylvania to plant native plants along a stream restoration project that is currently underway. Some of the native plants used were blazing star, mountain mint, big bluestem, little bluestem, grey-headed coneflower, and rose mallow. The Corps members worked through the heat to get 650 plants in the ground!
Thursday we visited Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve in Holland. We started the day lopping woody plants at the entrance of the preserve and hand-pulling small buckthorn saplings. Common and glossy buckthorn are highly invasive nonnative plants that used to dominate the landscape of Irwin Prairie. Management and volunteer work over the past decade has restored acres of land to prairie, after it had been nearly a monoculture of buckthorn. We ended the day with a nature hike on the boardwalk and used dip nets to discover what creatures live in the waters of the grass lake. We found crayfish, American Toad tadpoles, Grey Treefrog tadpoles, dragonfly larvae, and snails.
That concludes week two of the Olander Youth Conservation Corps!