WNY Nature Preserves, DEC join forces to combat an invasive plant species
Scout groups, civic organizations, families and individuals are invited to participate in the "Garlic Mustard Challenge," a friendly competition to remove a harmful plant from Western New York.
The Buffalo Audubon Society, Western New York Land Conservancy, Friends of Reinstein Woods, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have joined forces to improve the habitats of three natural areas by ridding them of garlic mustard.
The challenge starts Saturday, April 18.
"Garlic mustard is an invasive species that is harming forests in Western New York," Reinstein Woods Center Director Meaghan Boice-Green said. "The 'Garlic Mustard Challenge' gets people outside in nature and uses their collective volunteer power in an exciting and effective way."
Garlic mustard was originally brought from Europe as a source of food, but it escaped from gardens and has invaded forests throughout the eastern U.S., crowding out native wildflowers like trillium and Dutchman's breeches.
Fortunately, garlic mustard is easy to identify and easy to remove by hand, even for a child. Last year, hundreds of volunteers participating in the challenge removed more than 5,100 pounds of garlic mustard. This year, volunteers can sign up to remove garlic mustard at three locations:
Buffalo Audubon and Reinstein Woods will hold kickoff events at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 18. Participants will learn how to identify and remove the plant, as well as how the competition will work. Entire groups may attend or send a representative and begin pulling garlic mustard that day. Groups will be welcome to remove garlic mustard as often as they like until the final pull date of Thursday, June 18.
The teams that pull the most garlic mustard throughout the season will win prizes, including a weekend stay at the cabin at Beaver Meadow, snowshoe and ski rentals at Reinstein Woods and more.
The nature preserve that harnesses the most volunteer power will be crowned the "Challenge Champion." The winners will be announced during an award ceremony Saturday, June 20, at Kenneglenn Nature Preserve in Wales.
"This is a great way for people to become stewards of their local environment," Land Conservancy Stewardship Director Kathleen McCormick said. "Everyone's a winner when we help the land."
Attendance at the April 18 event is encouraged but not mandatory. Groups interested in participating can call the numbers below to register for each site.
For more information, contact Matt Nusstein at Reinstein Woods 716-683-5959 or search for "Garlic Mustard Challenge" on Facebook.