Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Garlic mustard control "contest"

I applaud the efforts of Iowa City and Johnson County. What an inventive (and fun) way to try and control a nasty invasive! See below...

Last May, the City of Iowa City and Johnson County thought of a new way to fight the Plant from Hell (AKA Garlic Mustard): A garlic mustard challenge was organized and groups of volunteers, young and old, attacked predetermined sites with a vengeance. Almost a ton of GM was pulled.

The event is being organized again this year, with a new twist: other cities or locations are being challenged to BEAT THE JOHNSON COUNTY RECORD! It's a competition, a challenge, to see who can pull the most.

People throughout the state are invited to organize crews and join in. This is a win-win event: you decrease GM and at the same time educate others about the nasty plant and how it should be fought.

Please see the attached Press Release, and the Sample Challenge Letter inserted below. Do consider joining in and thanks, Connie Mutel

Dear _____,

In the spring of 2007, Iowa City and Johnson County area residents rallied together to establish a record for the Most Garlic Mustard Plants Ever Pulled. The event was sponsored by Iowa City's Neighborhood Services, Parks and Recreation, and Public Works Departments, with support from many Johnson County environmental organizations such as Friends of Hickory Hill Park, Johnson County Heritage Trust, Johnson County Conservation Board, Project Green, Environmental Advocates, and the Backyard Abundance Campaign. The goal was not only to control the spread of these noxious weeds but also to expand public awareness about the problem. As you know, garlic mustard is a non-native plant species that has no local natural controls, partially because none of Iowa's native insects or wildlife rely on it as a food source. The plant has spread at an alarming rate the past two decades, and is now degrading local woodlands by crowding out native plants such as wildflowers, ferns, and tree seedlings, which in turn reduces the food supply for woodland animals. To control the spread, the weeds must be pulled or cut between March and June, before they go to seed and repopulate.

Last May, Johnson Country residents pulled a total of 1,900 pounds (almost a ton) of invasive garlic mustard plants from the Johnson County area. We concentrated on public areas such as City and County parks, but also encouraged private property owners to permit pulling on their property. We hope to build on that success this year!

The City of Iowa City would like to extend a challenge to _______ in hopes of stimulating growth of the program and continuing regional efforts to eradicate this noxious weed. The second annual Johnson County/Iowa City Great Garlic Mustard Challenge is scheduled for April 19th and 26th. We hope to beat last year's record and encourage other communities to participate! We will be weighing the garlic mustard pulled at our April events and will also include any garlic mustard plants pulled throughout the month of April. We also encourage our challengers to make the weed pulling a month-long event.

If you think your community might be interested in such a challenge, we would be happy to share any of our promotional materials, brochures, experiences,

etc. to assist you in the process. We learned a lot last year and intend to make this year's project even better!

Thank you for considering participation in this exciting event. If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact Marcia Klingaman with Neighborhood Services at 319/356-5237 or e-mail marcia-klingaman@ iowa-city. org.


The Great Garlic Mustard Challenge Planning Committee