Mississippi Valley Conservancy’s land management crew (Freddy Ragan, Jon Baranowski, Ben Halfmann, and Reece Mullen) has been busy as ever caring for our nature preserves as the summer has gotten in full swing. The team has observed the spring ephemeral wildflowers shrink and shrivel and be replaced by the wildflowers and lush vegetation of summer. The crew has shifted from pulling invasive garlic mustard to removing invasive wild parsnip, cut-leaved teasel, sweet clover and spotted knapweed before it spreads its seeds (typically in early July).
“Although the main focus for the Conservancy’s summer intern crew is habitat improvement and invasive species control to increase biodiversity and make our nature preserves more resilient to climate change, the crew also enjoys spending time learning about the Conservancy’s nature preserves and identifying all of the native plants that can be found on each one,” said Levi Plath, Conservancy Land Manager. In the last few weeks the crew has had the opportunity to observe a plethora of species flowering out on the land including; bastard toadflax, black-eyed susan, prairie rose, blue flag iris, common milkweed, prairie coreopsis, flowering spurge, silky prairie clover, cream wild indigo, and Carolina puccoon, among others.
In addition to improving the Conservancy’s nature preserves, the land management crew spends about one day a week on a private property with a conservation easement held by the Conservancy. This is a unique opportunity for our summer interns to gain experience working with private landowners and spending time exploring lands that are not open for public access. Our conservation easement landowners are asked to make a donation to our intern crew endowment fund for every visit that our crew makes to their property and it’s thanks to these private landowners that the Conservancy is able to employ and offer the crew to help manage private conservation easement lands in the Driftless Area.
Photo of Carolina puccoon by Sarah Bratnober.