With the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) shutting down the social and commercial bustle of our lives it gives us a chance to step into nature and reconnect with the ecological systems around us. As we enter early spring hikers across the state will notice some of the first plants to leaf out adorning their light green foliage. Many of these “early risers” are actually invasive species that are getting a head start on growing for the season. An invasive species is a non-native plant or animal that disrupts native ecosystems by outcompeting local resident species. This trait of leafing out early allows invasive plants to begin growing, utilizing nutrients, and shading the understory before many native plants even have a chance to begin their yearly photosynthetic cycles. One of the worst invasive offenders is a pungent plant called garlic mustard. NICHES works with volunteers every year to battle back this aggressive plant but with the emerging threat of the coronavirus this valuable window of opportunity has been closed, at least to group volunteer workdays. However, there is still hope!
Pulling garlic mustard on some key preserves is a great way for a for individuals to get out of the house and make a positive difference in the community while remaining socially isolated. To anyone who is interested in utilizing this unprecedented event of social distancing to help us improve the health of our local ecosystems, we have created a map that indicates which preserves in and around Tippecanoe County are top priorities for pulling garlic mustard. We hope that you can find the time to help us maximize our limited stewardship and volunteer capacity and discover some beautiful natural areas along the way! If you have any questions about the preserves or the process of pulling garlic mustard please email .
The map below show the high priority sites. They are: