Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium, Inc.


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Partnering to Restore Habitat

Two project woodlands in Milwaukee County

With financial assistance from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the US Forest Service, SEWISC is partnering to control invasive species and restore the native plant communities of two important urban woodlands in southeastern Wisconsin: Milwaukee County Zoological Society and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Downer Woods. Through this funding, invasive species populations in the project sites are detected and controlled using best management practices. Re-establishment by the invading plant species will be prevented by restoring native species and through long-term monitoring by committed staff and volunteers in both locations.

people working in woods 300The Milwaukee County Zoological Society is removing common and glossy buckthorn and garlic mustard from a 2-acre area adjacent to Lake Evinrude at the Zoo.  After removal, the cleared areas are treated with herbicide to help prevent regrowth of the invasive shrubs.  To augment this restoration effort, the cleared area will soon be replanted with a diverse selection of more than 150 native trees and shrubs following guidance provided by the US Forest Service. This project provided the Student Conservation Association and the Milwaukee County House of Corrections the opportunity to assist with the removal of invasive species and restoration of native species.  These and other habitat preservation efforts will continue to take place at the Zoo, and simultaneously raise awareness of this critical issue to the 1.3 million annual Zoo visitors.

Prior to 1999, Downer Woods (located on the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Campus) received no management and contained an herbaceous layer heavily dominated by garlic mustard where sufficient light reached the forest floor through a dense common buckthorn shrub canopy.  woman in buckthorn forest 300This condition was typical of many ignored urban woodlots at that time but in 1999, University staff removed all fruiting-sized buckthorn, and began to prevent garlic mustard seed set.  This invasive control work has continued over the past 17 years and has been augmented by planting native tree saplings.  The response of the native plant community has been tremendous.  The woodland is becoming a well-known and well-studied example of recovery from invasive species.  To complete the restoration University staff and volunteers will remove the last cohort of buckthorn and honeysuckle individuals that were seedlings in 1999 and continue to plant native tree and shrub species following guidance provided by the US Forest Service.