by Pam Willison, Co-Chair OSNA

Rod Wallette removing brush in OSNA

During 2021, volunteers spent nearly 300 hours in Owen Sowerwine, doing work to remove or control plant species that are not native. The efforts were primarily directed toward cutting Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and February Daphne (Daphne mezereum) bushes, and removing seed heads from noxious weeds, particularly houndstongue, Canada thistle, and oxeye daisy. By reducing the seed production and disbursal of these species, it slows their spread, and gives native vegetation a chance to compete and survive.

The leading causes of native biodiversity degradation or loss are invasive plants and habitat loss.  Invasive plant species have many methods of outcompeting native plants, including producing large quantities of seeds, having aggressive root systems that choke the roots of native plants, and producing toxic chemicals in their fruit, leaves and/or roots. The non-native vegetation can then use more of the available moisture, nutrients, light, and space, which causes native plants to struggle, and often die. The result is a reduction of the quality and quantity of wildlife habitat and food sources.

Our program to control non-native vegetation emphasizes using muscle-power instead of chemicals. As an example, 64 hours were spend cutting and digging invasive weeds, compared to 14 hours spent by a licensed contractor to spot-spray noxious weeds. Thanks to the organizing efforts of Denny Olson, 5 group work days were held in early spring to cut and stack Buckthorn. The stumps are immediately brushed with a 25% glyphosate solution to kill the root and prevent regeneration by sprouting. A whopping 180 worker-hours were volunteered during these 5 work days – THANK YOU!!

The OSNA “Invasive Warrior” honor would have to go to FAS Board member Will Beyer who spent just shy of 100 hours doing everything from running a chain saw or brush cutter, crawling through the brush to identify and mark Buckthorn and dragging a garbage bag through dense vegetation to locate and remove seed heads. It’s hot and back-breaking work, and I offer sincere gratitude to Will for his contributions toward making OSNA a better place for our many birds and critters.