Friday, September 08, 2006

A Wisconsin tragedy, in the making

Devil's Lake State Park is succumbing to that evil weed, garlic mustard. It has a really good foothold in the park, the most popular in the state. Devil's Lake, besides being beautiful, is home to some very fragile plant species. If the garlic mustard isn't controlled, those fragile plant species will be crowded out. An amazing variety of wildlife calls the park home as well. If the garlic mustard isn't controlled, the plants those birds and animals eat or that their prey eats will no longer exist, and then, eventually, neither will those birds and animals.

Garlic mustard is more prolific than a pack of horny rabbits. Volunteers at Devil's Lake work to pull the plant, but it's bigger, meaner, and more abundant than they are. They are losing the battle.

Young garlic mustard in Devil's Lake.

This park will be lost unless some heavy resources are invested to control this invasive. Experience has shown that relying on efforts by volunteers, no matter how dedicated they are, is futile. Controlling garlic mustard simply needs more labor and time than volunteers can provide.

This park is a huge economic and natural asset for the citizens and state of Wisconsin. State officials are now putting together the 2007-09 budget. It will be interesting to see if protecting this vital state resource is a state funding priority in the coming two years.

Maybe it will be. But to be safe, if you want to see Devil's Lake State Park's vast array of plant and animal life, visit soon. After that, it may be too late.

Garlic mustard crowded out other plants in this area of Devil's Lake State Park. The dead stalks are all that is left at the end of the plant's life cycle.

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