In autumn, a favorite pastime is driving country roads in search of the beautiful bursts of fall color. With all of the natural beauty of Ozaukee County, it may come as a surprise that the roads we drive each day to get us to and from work, school, entertainment, and other activities are also a primary avenue for the invasion of unwanted plants.
Phragmites, Purple Loosestrife, Wild Parsnip - these plants are not native to Wisconsin, and pose a threat to our yards, gardens, woodlands, and wetlands. Wild Parsnip also poses a hazard to humans who come into contact with it (the plant juices, when activated by sunlight, can cause painful blistering burns that can result in scarring). Once established, these plants are difficult and expensive to eradicate, and they can reduce the value of your property, as well as your enjoyment of it. As with many problems, prevention is the key, which is why the Friends of the Cedarburg Bog (FOCB) have initiated a program to stop the invasion of these unwanted and invasive plants.
The Bog Guardian Program is funded by the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT), a WI-DNR Citizen-based Monitoring Network, and by the Friends of the Cedarburg Bog. The Bog Guardians will recruit and train a cadre of volunteers to monitor, locate and eradicate invasive plants on roadways surrounding the Cedarburg Bog, and nearby State Natural Areas, in cooperation with Town, County and State Highway Departments. Furthermore, the program will reach out to landowners in the area to increase their awareness of the threats these unwanted plants pose to their properties, and offer to assist them in eradicating them, which will further help to stem the spread of these invasive species into our sensitive natural areas.
The Cedarburg Bog, which is located in the northwest corner of the Town of Cedarburg, was designated a State Natural Area in 1952, and was only the second property in the state added to this program. The preserve is one of the largest and best examples of the remaining wetlands in Southeastern Wisconsin, with large expanses of cedar-tamarack swamp forest, in addition to marshes, shrub carrs, swamp hardwoods, and both deep and shallow bog lakes. Its most unusual feature is the presence of a string or "patterned" bog, which consists of stunted cedars and tamaracks alternating with flatter, wetter areas dominated by sedges. String bogs are typically found much further north, and the Cedarburg Bog may be the southernmost string bog in North America.
Teasel and Wild Parsnip have yet to reach the Cedarburg Bog, but keeping these invasive plants out is much easier than trying to get rid of them after they've arrived, and this is now the mission of Jamie Sue Beaupré, the new Bog Guardian Project Manager. Beaupré is quite passionate about her work. "Its amazing, actually," Beaupré said, "All plants just want to grow, invasive or not." Once established, it is intended that the Bog Guardians, with help from neighboring landowners and communities, will sustain this program into the future and keep invasive plants out of the Bog, UWM Field Station, and State Natural Areas.
The Bog Guardians are looking for volunteers for this very important project; if you are interested in getting involved, Contact Jamie Sue Beaupré, FOCB Bog Guardian Program Manager, at 262-323-1887, or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.