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U.S. Forest Service Recruiting Volunteers To Dig Up Invasive Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard.

Invasive garlic mustard first appeared in the Hoosier National Forest decades ago. (Tony Atkin / Garlic Mustard - Alliaria petiolata / CC BY-SA 2.0)

The U.S. Forest Service is recruiting volunteers to help remove invasive garlic mustard at recreational areas in the Hoosier National Forest.

Volunteers armed with gloves and plastic bags were out Saturday pulling up the plant by its roots at Blackwell Horsecamp south of Bloomington.

“If you have garlic mustard, that's all you have,” says Ellen Jacquart, a former botanist with the U.S. Forest Service. “One by one, it takes out all those other species and takes over the entire ground layer. So it has a lot of negative impacts on the diversity of forests.”

Jacquart remembers when the plant made its debut in the area: “We were not able to get it under control. And so here we are 20 years later, still chasing garlic mustard and trying to keep it from taking over this forest.” 

Experts say the weed showed up in Indiana in the 1950s or sooner but didn’t reach Blackwell for a few more decades. 

Evie Phelps, a biological science technician at Hoosier National Forest, says volunteers don’t need to know much about invasive species to make a difference.

“I wish I could say it's really hard to find them. But it's pretty common in the spring, especially, because they're one of the only things that's green right now,” Phelps says.

“So, it's really easy to find them in especially areas where you have streams, you have trails, you have roads, you're going to find it just about everywhere.”

Saturday’s volunteer day was the first of the year, and officials will be working on garlic mustard in different areas of the forest throughout the spring.

The next is Tuesday at the Hickory Ridge Horsecamp from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Future volunteers can learn more and sign up at the service’s Hoosier National Forest Facebook page.

The U.S. Forest Service provides water and hand sanitizer. All involved must wear masks and maintain social distancing.

This story has been updated.

 

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