On Friday November 9, I joined two service learners and Theresa Morgan, Restoration Specialist for RRF, to help plant native tree species, do some live staking and build animal cribs. This was my second time working with RRF since the intro hike, I was excited to see what work we would be doing. To my surprise, I did not work on the Riverwest location, instead I went to the Southbranch Creek tributary in Brown Deer.
The Southbranch Creek location had been wildly overgrown by Buckthorn, Garlic Mustard and other overgrown invasive species. To start our restoration work, we planted Basswood and Buttonbush trees along the creek bed. We learned that native Dogwood could be broken down into yard long pieces, about as thick as a thumb and then staked at a fourty-five degree angle as close to the water as possible. Dogwood is a native species that can sprout roots from live staking which makes it an effective and cost-free method to reintroduce native species.
The area seen in the pictures was at one point so crowded with invasive species, it was not possible to see past three feet in front from the edge of the location. A lot of work went into clearing out the tributary land and involved volunteer effort. Now that the area has been cleared, Theresa explained, there was significant habitat loss for the creatures that occupied the green space. In order to make up for that loss, some of the branch piles were set up with the sticks and branches laid horizontally, this allows a space for the animals to burrow and create nesting areas. The crib I worked on was about 9-10 yards in from the creek, my job was to move sticks from smaller piles into the crib. Together we cleared about four small piles and added a significant amount of material to the cribs. This was our last task at Southbranch Creek, after cleaning up we headed back to the Riverview commons where Vince and other student service learners were taming Garlic Mustard.
After departing from RRF that day, I felt as though I had done Earth a good deed. I was happy to spend time planting trees and live staking dogwood along the creek. It reassured me that the work I was doing was not only because it was required for school but that it came from the heart and I actually enjoy learning and working with RRF.