For the City Times
In a continuing effort to control the invasive garlic mustard plant the Portage County Parks Department has incorporated fire into their management plan this spring.
The UWSP Fire Crew conducted two prescribed burns in the park woodlands this spring covering approximately 60 acres. The goal was to kill the emerging plants and destroy the previous seed beds from past years. The burning kills the smaller first year plants that are just emerging and the second year plants that produce the seed. Unfortunately seeds can remain dormant in the ground for several years before sprouting.
“A spring burn was a new attempt to try something different for controlling garlic mustard. We used fall burning in the past and have sprayed and handpicked plants for several years and we’re still losing the battle.” said Gary Speckmann, Portage County Parks director.
Garlic mustard is a plant introduced into the United States by early European settlers and has been spreading westward across the country for years. It finally reached central Wisconsin about a dozen years ago. It is a very aggressive plant that displaces native vegetation and cuts off sunlight that tree and shrub seedlings need. The seeds are spread by deer, equipment and people.
Speckmann said the Fire Crew has said woodland burning at Standing Rocks was a valuable training tool for them and they would continue burning in the park in the future.
“It’s just another management tool for us to use for garlic mustard control along with spraying and handpicking and it provides a benefit to them and to the Parks Department,” Speckmann said.