Volunteers battle a formidable foe in Lake View Hill Park

AmeriCorps team relaxes after pulling garlic mustard in Lake View Woods. Photo by Nelson Eisman

By Dan Tortorice
Friends of Lake View Hill Park

Garlic mustard sounds tasty, doesn’t it? But Northsiders don’t need to drive to the Mustard Museum; we’ve got plenty of it in Lake View Hill Woods.

Its name combines two food favorites, but garlic mustard is a nasty invasive plant that can take over a forest floor. People have consumed it as a flavoring and food source for thousands of years and it was brought to North America for that reason. But it escaped to replace native species of plants, reducing bio-diversity while providing no benefits to animal species and acting as a toxin to some native insects. Its two-year life cycle means it exists first as a low plant with tap root and then produces flowers and seeds the next year. Each plant produces hundreds of seeds.

Eliminating garlic mustard without using chemicals takes a combined effort of controlled burning and human muscle to pull out the plants before they make seed. With years of continued effort, the seed bank in a particular area like Lake View Hill Woods can be exhausted

Dane County Parks burned 7 acres of the woods this April. Then came the muscle.

Several members of AmeriCorps’ Partners for After School Success (PASS) pulled garlic mustard April 23. Environmental work is just one of the many areas in which AmeriCorps strives to benefit our country. They have a strong presence on the Northside, with members working at Vera Court, Kennedy Heights and in conjunction with our schools.

A team from Johnson Financial Group, the holding company of Johnson Bank and Johnson Insurance, scheduled a work session May 23 as part of their Community Service Day program. Other groups that have helped with various projects in the woods include the Neighborhood Intervention Project, Malcolm Shabazz High School and Blackhawk Church.

With so many labor-intensive projects, the Friends of Lake View Hill Park welcomes individuals and groups to help out in the park. Contact Nelson Eisman at 217-5512 if you are interested. To check out summer recruitment at AmeriCorps, contact Connie Bettin at bettin@countyofdane.com.