For Release: Friday, June 20, 2014
'Garlic Mustard Challenge' Volunteers Successfully Battle Invaders
Removed More Than 5,100 Pounds of Invasive Plants at Four Nature Preserves
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Friends of Reinstein Woods, Buffalo Audubon Society and the Western New York Land Conservancy are pleased to announce the winners of the Garlic Mustard Challenge, a competition designed to improve habitats in Western New York nature preserves.
DEC Regional Director Abby Snyder said, "The Garlic Mustard Challenge is a great example of how residents, government and private organizations join forces to improve our environment. This type of collaboration is vital as we confront invasive species issues across our region."
"This is the fourth year of the Challenge, and it grows bigger every year," said Reinstein Woods' Naturalist Intern Cara Politi. "The goal is to harness volunteer power to help restore ecosystems, and we've been overwhelmed by the incredible effort made by our volunteers."
More than 300 volunteers removed 5,100 pounds of an invasive plant called garlic mustard from three nature preserves, improving hundreds of acres of habitat at:
- 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)
Civic groups, scouts, schools, master gardeners and families participated at the three sites, many returning to their site multiple times over the nine-week competition.
To increase their impact on Western New York, 17 volunteers also removed garlic mustard at the Lewiston Plateau Habitat Area in Lewiston, Niagara County, during a one-day "Super Pull." Volunteers pulled 277 pounds of garlic mustard in just three hours.
In addition to winners at each site, Beaver Meadow Audubon Center claims bragging rights as "Challenge Champion" for harnessing the most volunteer power (pounds of garlic mustard per person) of the three nature preserves. The organization's 52 volunteers pulled more than 2,394 pounds of garlic mustard.
Buffalo Audubon Executive Director Loren Smith said, "Although we may have won the title of champion, the ecosystems of Western New York are all winners due to the amazing work of these teams of dedicated volunteers. They are improving habitats and spreading the word about the impact that invasive species can have in our region."
An invasive species is a plant or animal introduced to an ecosystem by humans, either on purpose or by accident, and adversely affects the habitat it invades. Originally brought to North America for use in cooking, garlic mustard escaped from gardens and moved into forests, where it crowds out native wildflowers. Fortunately, garlic mustard is easy to identify and easy to remove by hand.
Land Conservancy Stewardship Director Kathleen McCormick said, "It is gratifying to see the change in the preserves now that so much garlic mustard has been removed. We appreciate the hard work put in by all the volunteers, as well as the support of the Town of Elma and the Village of Lewiston."
The teams that pulled the most garlic mustard at each site won site-specific prizes including an overnight stay at the cabin at Beaver Meadow, a "splash hike" with an expert birder at Kenneglenn and a season of free snowshoe and ski rentals at Reinstein Woods. Runners up at each site received tickets to the Buffalo Zoo, passes to the Botanical Gardens, Buffalo Bisons tickets, signed Buffalo Bills memorabilia and more.
A list of winners is included below.
Garlic Mustard Challenge Winners
First Place: Riptide Plus, Buffalo (168.75 pounds)
Runner Up: Pack 592, Orchard Park (123.75 pounds)
First Place: Olivia's Mustard, Lancaster (1,113 pounds)
Runner Up: East Pembroke Grange, Pembroke (769 pounds)
First Place: Boy Scout Troop 513, East Aurora (1,016) pounds)
Runner Up: Cub Scout Pack 514, East Aurora (348 pounds)
Lewiston Plateau Habitat Area 'Super Pull":
First Place: Unicorn Troop, Kenmore (151.5 pounds)
Runner Up: Daemen YALT, Daemen College (55 pounds)