June 5, 2018
|We listened, we laughed, we thought, we learned.|
1. Do you have either words or statistics that summarize what you’ve accomplished at Poplar Creek?
The only statistic that I have is: 200 to 250 hours per year removing weeds (and some trash) beyond scheduled work days; most days I spend an hour or two at the site. I have eradicated (or greatly reduced) teasel, wild parsnip, Queen Anne’s lace, and garlic mustard in many areas (not because others have not done so, but because being retired now - or occasionally unemployed in the past - I have had the time to work in the same areas repeatedly during a growing season over a span of years). If a weed can not be prevented from reproducing, then there is no possibility of eradicating it; the availability of time has made this possible for me.
2. What’s your relationship like with the rest of the group? Do you lead workdays or portions of workdays? Are there a few people who especially work with you? Or do you work mostly solo?
For the most part now I work solo in areas of particular interest to me; Mondays through Fridays most of rest of the group are at their day jobs. If herbaceous weeds are targeted for a scheduled work day, then I often work with the group. Otherwise, I have planned for and work at something else.
Occasionally I have helped to supervise when a large group of inexperienced volunteers has shown up. Otherwise, no; I do not lead work days.
3. Do you and the staff/contractors coordinate?
I always keep either John Navin or Jenny Flexman (stewards for the main site or Schaumburg Road Grasslands, respectively) generally informed of my plans or tasks. They do coordinating with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County or the contractors; I prefer to only involve myself with one level of management, our stewards.
4. Have you written up procedures/recommendations for people generally?
No. When asked in the past I have written my approach to dealing with teasel and with wild parsnip. Currently I am conducting experiments with herbiciding and with mechanical removal of Lily-of-the Valley. This species is a small problem at Poplar Creek but a humongous problem at Bluff Spring Fen. While herbiciding can be effective, mechanically weed whipping (or clipping in really high quality and sensitive areas) early in the season before much else emerges would be less damaging and less labor intensive.
5. Do you have a great specific story or two that would help convey what you’ve faced?
I do not particularly care to have the first thing knowledgeable and experienced conservationists see upon entering our site is a lot of “crap”. At the edge of the main prairie at Poplar Creek there had been a 30 to 50 foot wide and 100' to 150' long band of wild parsnip, sweet clover, teasel, and reed canary grass. I and others have taken many years to eliminate them from that edge using scythes, hand clippers, and pulling (with herbiciding for the reed canary grass). It is unrelenting effort that has achieved this.
Within and surrounding the Shoe Factory Road Prairie Preserve I have worked to eliminate wild parsnip; the 1996 moratorium set back that effort by at least five years (the seed bank was replenished for a year), but eventually that objective was achieved. Other weeds, such as hound’s tongue, motherwort, thistle (Canada, bull, and musk), dame’s rocket, sweet clover, winter cress, and ox-eye daisy are yet to be eradicated, but their numbers are slowly being reduced.
Comment from SP: I feel good about life to know that I’m sharing my efforts to heal nature with thousands of people, all contributing in different ways, and one is Kirk Garanflo.
I have a lot more good material from Kirk that I'll try to include in a future post.
A person with Kirk's expertise would certainly be paid more than $50/hr for contract work. But, just for the thought experiment, at more than 200 hours, he's been contributing more than $10,000 per year for decades. Bless him. Of course, "It's nice work if you can get it" - given that he is doing exactly what he wants to do, exactly how he wants to do it!
Well, okay, one more note. I asked Openlands how much a contractor would charge for a weed-control person with that level of expertise. The answer was "about $125/hr." So at that rate, at 250 hrs/yr, Kirk would be contributing a value of over 30,000 per year. Hmmm, in thirty years it's about a million dollars.
It had been over 20 years since I visited Palatine Prairie. It had started to be taken over by vetch to such an extent that I doubted its capability to survive to any decent capacity. Having first visited 5-7 years previous and seen it in all its glory, I no longer wanted to view its steady decline. Perhaps the landowners have taken action to control the damage and it is good as new--one can hope.
|Wild hyacinths blooming in the restored oak woods south of the restored prairie.|
Photo by Kirk Garanflo.