We had huge successes for the first year of an ambitious campaign to control garlic mustard in the Copeland Forest. An amazing hundred people volunteered. They adopted a trail and committed to pull garlic mustard for five years. With this significant turnout, we were able to pull all of the Copeland Forest’s upland, deciduous Forest, the most biodiverse area.
The volunteers came as individuals, couples and small groups. They came from Horseshoe Valley and vicinity, from Barrie to Coldwater to Midhurst. All ages and users volunteered from extreme runners to people new to the Copeland Forest. All were passionate about preserving the natural beauty of the Forest.
We also had many organized groups come forward to volunteer. They included the Barrie and Oro Medonte Ganaraska hiking clubs, the Barrie and Georgian Bay Anglers and Hunters Youth Conservation clubs, the Oro-Medonte Forest School, Wyndham Destinations Carriage Hill’s Resort staff.
Garlic mustard pulls are hard work, but we also had fun. Everyone enjoyed discovering wildflowers as we walked to the pull sites. Before heading back garlic mustard snacks brought everyone together to chat. Some pulled plants were even taken home to make the recipes.
We had many challenges to overcome. First, the garlic mustard plants were slow to grow this cold damp spring. People who chose to pull in mid-May (perfect timing for last year) were rescheduled for late May or June. Flexibility was key.
We also did not have a bumper crop of garlic mustard this year. Locations of garlic mustard plants were more scattered and lighter in density this year. So, patience was required to find the plants and to revisit the same sites to see if new plants had shot up. This phenomenon has occurred before. Next year the garlic mustard may come back with a vengeance judging by the number of baby plants that sprouted this spring and will mature in 2020.
Of course, the Copeland Forest itself can be challenge. It’s a very large, hilly forest to tackle. Knowledgeable leaders guided people to their pull locations, plus individuals got personalized maps with their trail color-highlighted and a stake on the trail with their ID label marking their section.
We kept track of results this year. Pull data for 2019 was recorded and will be collected for five years. Number of bags put in the compost bins and photos of plants growing helped record the density.
A heartfelt thanks goes out to all the volunteers who dedicated their time, energy and passion to protecting the Copeland Forest’s natural habitat; to MNR&F and the CFFA board who supported the project and to Margaret Kennedy and Clare Holden who led and inspired the campaign.