The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Invasive plant removed from Miners Memorial Heritage Park


July 3, 2019

Bryan Hellios/Daily Globe

CAROL ERICKSON lays on a heap of Japanese Knotweed after helping fellow FRIENDS OF the Miners Memorial Heritage Park Sharlene Shaffer, left, and Kristen Semo remove multiple trailer loads of the invasive species at the park Tuesday. The 10-foot tall plants had overtaken an area near an established butterfly habitat.


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Ironwood - Friends of the Miners Memorial Heritage Park removed a patch of Japanese knotweed growing in the park on Tuesday.

The invasive species was first spotted recently by Rick Semo, vice president of the group, who was checking on eradication efforts of a different plant.

"I came in here looking for garlic mustard because I didn't know what it looked like," he said. "And I saw that stuff and thought, whoa, that's not what I thought it would look like."

Semo could not understand how the crews who sprayed the garlic mustard did not see the stand of Japanese knotweed, which stood about 10 feet high and covered an area approximately 100 feet in diameter.

"In England, if you have this on your property you can not apply for a mortgage to buy that property," Semo said.

The plant grows in poor conditions such as salinity, drought, shade and heat. This allows it to compete with native plants and can grow out of control forming dense thickets that crowd out native species.

Sharlene Shaffer, a master gardener and nature chair of FMMHP, said the cluster of plants can affect the ecosystem of an area.

The plant resembles bamboo and people grow it for ornamental purposes. Many invasive species start out in a garden or as a house plant, but she said, that is bad for the environment.

"A lot of time these invasives come in and they take over an area and destroy the soil for our native plants," she said.

Japanese knotweed propagates by roots and each section of the plant is capable of reproducing itself. Removing the plant is labor-intensive and requires each of the plants stalks to cut and be treated with growth inhibiting chemicals so it does not just grow back. Once the plant is cut it needs to be laid out in the sun to dry before being burned.

"They are supposed to use a special herbicide," Shaffer said, adding she does not like to use chemicals near an established butterfly garden.

The group has planted milkweed to attract monarch butterflies and have a citizen reporting station for park users to record butterfly activity.

"We just barely got the milkweed started in this area," she said.

Semo said the group has been battling many different kinds of plants in the park due to its close proximity to the city's compost dump.

"The Miner's Park has been in existence for 10 years and there is no money involved other then what we raise," he said.

The roughly 160-acre park is a combination nature trail and memorial for all the mines which existed in the area.

Semo said the group "keeps plugging away" and is always looking for help to improve the park so it can be enjoyed by all.

"As in many things here, it creates that quality of life that your looking for in a town," he said.


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