For Release: Thursday, March 13, 2014
Registration Open for Fourth Annual "Garlic Mustard Challenge"
DEC and WNY Nature Preserves Join Forces to Combat an Invasive Plant Species
Scout groups, civic organizations and individuals are invited to participate in the "Garlic Mustard Challenge," a friendly competition to remove a harmful plant from Western New York. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Friends of Reinstein Nature Preserve, the Buffalo Audubon Society and the Western New York Land Conservancy have joined forces to improve the habitats of four natural areas by ridding them of garlic mustard. The challenge starts Saturday, April 12.
"Garlic mustard is an invasive species that is harming forests in Western New York," said Abby Snyder, DEC Region 9 director. "The Garlic Mustard Challenge gets people outside in nature and uses their collective volunteer power in an exciting and effective way."
Garlic mustard was originally brought from Europe as a source of food, but it escaped from gardens and has invaded forests throughout the eastern United States, crowding out native wildflowers like trillium and Dutchman's breeches.
Fortunately, garlic mustard is easy to identify and easy to remove by hand, even for a child. Last year, hundreds of volunteers participating in the challenge removed more than 4,000 pounds of garlic mustard. This year, volunteers can sign up to remove garlic mustard at three locations:
- Buffalo Audubon's Beaver Meadow Nature Center in North Java (Wyoming County)
- DEC's Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve in Cheektowaga (Erie County)
- Western New York Land Conservancy's Kenneglenn Preserve in Wales (Erie County)
Reinstein Woods will hold a kickoff event on Saturday, April 12 at 11 a.m. Participants will learn how to identify and remove the plant, as well as how the competition will work. Entire groups may attend or send a representative and begin pulling garlic mustard that day at any of the three sites (Beaver Meadow, Kenneglenn or Reinstein Woods). After the kickoff date, groups will be welcome to remove garlic mustard as often as they like until the final pull date of Thursday, June 12.
A one-day "Super Pull" will take place on May 10th at the three nature preserves as well as the Lewiston Plateau Habitat Area in Niagara County.
The teams that pull the most garlic mustard throughout the season will win prizes, including a weekend stay at the cabin at Beaver Meadow, passes to the Botanical Gardens or the Buffalo Zoo, snowshoe and ski rentals at Reinstein Woods and more. Prizes will also be awarded to the team that pulls the most garlic mustard during the May 10 "Super Pull."
The nature preserve that harnesses the most volunteer power will be crowned the "Challenge Champion." The winners will be announced during an award ceremony on Saturday, June 14, 2014 at Beaver Meadow Audubon Center in North Java.
"This is a great way for people to become stewards of their local environment," said Buffalo Audubon Executive Director Loren Smith.
Attendance at the April 12 event is not mandatory, but groups interested in participating must register for any of the sites by calling Reinstein Woods at (716) 683-5959. For more information, or to register your group, contact Cara Politi at Reinstein Woods or search for "Garlic Mustard Challenge" on Facebook.