Stewardship of the PCA

The Platteville Community Arboretum lies on what was once Potawatomi land. We are grateful to those who long stewarded this land and now, are working to restore the PCA to native habitat, creating healthy habitat for the local flora and fauna while making it a beautiful place for people to enjoy. 

 

The now paved and lit PCA trail was a functioning railroad route from 1870-1980. The local station was razed and the route was formally abandoned in 1980. Disturbances to the land caused by human activity, altered the native habitat and much of our work now is remediating those alterations. Our goal for the entirety of the land surrounding the PCA is to remove all invasive species (species that are non-native to an ecosystem and whose introduction likely causes economic, or environmental harm) and restore all vegetation to native species. Ecological restoration takes a lot of time, patience and adjustments. Depending on which season you visit the PCA, you’ll see different management techniques being used. We target different invasive species in different seasons and by different methods. 

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Invasive Species of Concern in the PCA

 

Honeysuckle- tartarian honeysuckle, Morrow’s honeysuckle, amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii, Lonicera tatarica)

  • Multi-stemmed shrubs that grow 6-12 ft. tall

  • Invades forest edges, woods, bogs, roadsides, pastures

  • Alters habitats by decreasing light availability, outcompeting native species, depleting soil moisture and nutrients

  • A native species to Asia and Russia, was introduced to North America as an ornamental shrub

  • Removal and treatment of honeysuckle in the PCA: annually September- December

  • Control: cutting shrubs at the base of trunks and immediate application of glyphosate herbicide to stumps. Stumps readily re-sprout; yearly follow-up treatment is necessary to eradicate completely

    (Photo by Janeson Keeley on Unsplash)

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Dame's Rocket (Hesperis Matronalis)

  • Perennial or biennial that grows 3-4 ft. tall. White, pink or purple flowers emerge in the spring. Often mistaken for the native wood phlox (however, dame’s rocket flowers have 4 petals, wood phlox has 5 and each bloom in different seasons)

  • Invades woodlands, roadsides and open areas

  • Crowds out and displaces native plant species 

  • A native species to Eurasia, introduced to North America as an ornamental species. Often found in “wildflower” seed mixes and gardeners should use caution when choosing “wildflower seed mixes” to ensure dame’s rocket is not included

  • Removal of dame’s rocket in the PCA begins in early spring and continues throughout the summer until plants set seed

  • Control: hand pulling plants by the roots, bagging and disposing of off-site

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Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)

  • Biennial/perennial herb that grows up to 4 ft. tall. Produces hundreds of small yellow flowers arranged in a loose umbel that bloom in the summer. Skin contact with the plant sap causes intense burning and blistering on sunny days, a condition called phytophotodermatitis 

  • Invades fields, meadows, disturbed sites

  • Can form dense monoculture stands that replace native habitat

  • A native to Eurasia, brought to North America as a cultivated root vegetable 

  • Control of wild parsnip begins in spring and continues throughout summer. Proper skin protection is necessary when working on control of this plant!

  • Control: digging out taproots or repeated mowing/trimming of flower heads to prevent seed spreading

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Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

  • Herbaceous biennial that grows 2-4 ft. tall. First year plant grows as a green rosette, second year plants produce several flowering stems with white flowers

  • Invades floodplain forests, savannas, roadsides

  • Alters habitat by exuding antifungal chemicals into the soil that disrupts native plant growth, also outcompetes native plants for space, sunlight, nutrients

  • A native species to Europe, was introduced into North America as a desirable herbal, edible and medicinal plant and for erosion control

  • Removal of garlic mustard in the PCA begins early spring and continues throughout the summer until plants set seed

  • Control: hand pulling plants by the roots, bagging and disposing off-site

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Common Burdock (Arctium minus)

  • Taproot biennial forb that grows about 3-6 ft. tall. Purple flowers bloom in summer, and dry to a velcro-like burr. Produces large, heart-shaped leaves

  • Invades disturbed and degraded meadows, grasslands, woodland and riparian habitats

  • Negatively affects native plants by being a host for pathogens like powdery mildew and root rot. Large leaves can shade out nearby plants. Also poses a risk to birds and bats that can be trapped in burr clusters

  • A native species to Europe, was introduced to North America for medicinal purposes

  • Removal of burdock in the PCA begins in spring and continues throughout the summer

  • Control: hand pulling small plants and digging out large taproots 

    (Photo by Truly Joy on Unsplash)

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Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

  • Perennial cool season grass that grows about 2-6 ft. tall. Reproduces through horizontal stems below the soil surface (rhizomes)

  • Invades wetlands, moist fields and roadsides

  • Outcompetes most native species in wetlands. Dense infestations reduce plant and insect biodiversity

  • A native species to Eurasia, it was introduced to North America for forage and erosion control 

  • A particularly aggressive invader, the PCA has not yet begun mitigation and removal of reed canary grass

  • Control: a combination of mechanical and chemical control methods has proven most effective: repeated mowing and appropriately timed herbicide for at least 3-5 years

    (photo coming soon)

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Current Restoration Projects

 

restoration area spring 2021

volunteers Wayne Schambow and Dave Carnahan removing stumps, 2020

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Oak Savanna Restoration (trailside between light poles 89-94)

Our goal is to restore this area to native oak savanna habitat. Oak savannas and prairies are the habitats that once dominated the Driftless region. The area will have a diverse mix of native groundcover plants (grasses and flowering plants) with a relatively sparse number of native trees. 

During the past three years, this area was cleared of most trees, shrubs and debris. In the summer of 2020, we mowed the area

regularly to keep weeds from spreading seeds. In the 2021 growing season, we kept the area mowed, City of Platteville crews helped remove large stumps and we applied multiple rounds of herbicide* in an effort to kill persistent perennial weeds.

In fall 2021, three new oak trees were planted in the area. Late fall 2021, we will re-seed the area with a mixture of native grasses and wildflowers. As site preparation progresses, we’ll plant three more oak trees in sparse clusters, which is consistent with a typical oak savanna habitat.

 

Our Monday morning work crew has put in a lot of time and effort in preparing this area for restoration, we appreciate their efforts! A large native seed purchase for this project was also made possible with a grant from the Platteville Community Fund. 

"Grizzly Flats"

“Grizzly Flats” is a small, triangular shaped .15 acre parcel located trailside off of Valley Rd. (behind address 500 US-151 BUS, Platteville). Named for the roller-rink that once stood in its spot, PCA is working on restoring this parcel to prairie habitat. PCA began work on this restoration in 2021. During the growing season, small trees and woody shrubs were removed. City of Platteville crews helped remove large stumps and herbicide* was applied a few times during spring and summer in an effort to kill persistent perennial weeds. Late fall of 2021, we plan to re-seed the area with a mix of prairie grasses and wildflowers. 

restoration area designated

in yellow

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Shrub Nursery

In the winter of 2020, PCA purchased 100 bare-root shrubs from Lafayette County Conservation, Sanitation and Zoning Dept. Native shrubs provide excellent food and shelter for wildlife and in an effort to give them a better chance at survival, we’ll transplant shrubs from their “bare root” stage (dormant, young plants which are much less expensive to buy than mature shrubs) and let them grow for a couple years in a protected area with volunteer caretakers before transplanting along the trail. Transplanting a larger, more established shrub gives it a better chance of survival against deer and rabbits who find tender, young foliage especially tasty. Donations for this project came from Wagner Nursery and the UW-Platteville Reclamation Club provided volunteer labor in repotting all 100 shrubs. 

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young shrubs, spring 2021

*a note on herbicide use in restoration: 

We strive to use the most environmentally friendly methods to restore habitat along the trail and only implement the use of herbicide judiciously. In the case of site preparation, using herbicide allows us to more efficiently prepare large areas of land for re-planting. This site preparation gives native plants the best chance of thriving, while not having to compete with non-native perennial species.

 

How to get involved

Interested in joining us in our conservation work? Join any of our volunteer crews! Find out more here.