Garlic Mustard Challenge volunteers successfully battle invaders

Oracle Charter School Outdoor Club

The Western New York Land Conservancy, Friends of Reinstein Woods and the Buffalo Audubon Society are pleased to announce the winners of the fifth annual Garlic Mustard Challenge, a competition designed to improve habitats in three Western New York nature preserves.

“The Garlic Mustard Challenge is an excellent opportunity for citizens to join forces with government and private organizations to control invasive species.” said Loren Smith, executive director of the Buffalo Audubon. “Through the Garlic Mustard Challenge, we are able to harness volunteer power to help restore ecosystems. These volunteers have worked very hard and we are incredibly grateful to them!”

More than 240 volunteers removed 1,364 pounds of an invasive plant called garlic mustard from three nature preserves, improving hundreds of acres of habitat at Buffalo Audubon’s Beaver Meadow Nature Center in North Java (Wyoming County), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve in Cheektowaga (Erie County), and the Western New York Land Conservancy’s Kenneglenn Nature Preserve in Wales (Erie County).

Civic groups, scouts, schools, master gardeners and families participated at the three sites, many groups returning to their site multiple times over the 10-week competition.

Beaver Meadow claims bragging rights as “Challenge Champion” for pulling the most pounds of garlic mustard of the three nature preserves. Four incredibly dedicated volunteers pulled more than 730 pounds of garlic mustard at Beaver Meadow!

An invasive species is a plant or animal introduced to an ecosystem by humans, either on purpose or by accident, and adversely affects the habitat it invades. Originally brought to North America for use in cooking, garlic mustard escaped from gardens and moved into forests, where it crowds out native wildflowers. Fortunately, garlic mustard is easy to identify and easy to remove by hand.

Meaghan Boice-Green, center director of the Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center, said, “Now that we’ve been pulling garlic mustard for five years, the reduction in garlic mustard growth at each preserve is obvious. While Beaver Meadow won our friendly competition this year, the true winners are our ecosystems.”

The teams that pulled the most garlic mustard at each site won an overnight stay at Beaver Meadow’s cabin in the woods, free cross-country ski or snowshoe rental at Reinstein, as well as a guided birdwatching hike at Kenneglenn.

Cub Scout Pack 592, Orchard Park

Cub Scout Pack 592, Orchard Park

Garlic Mustard Challenge Winners

Reinstein Woods:
1st Place: Cub Scout Pack 592, Orchard Park
Runner Up: The Service Collaborative of WNY Youth Build

Beaver Meadow:
1st Place: East Pembroke Junior Grange
Runner Up: Olivia’s Mustard

Kenneglenn Preserve:
1st Place: Oracle Charter School Outdoor Club
Runner Up: Western New York Land Conservancy Board of Directors

The Western New York Land Conservancy is a regional, not-for-profit land trust that permanently protects land with significant conservation value in Western New York for future generations. The Land Conservancy envisions a future in which open spaces, working lands, wildlife habitat and scenic beauty are cherished and protected as part of the landscape and character of Western New York. The Land Conservancy is one of 1,700 land trusts nationwide, including 90 in New York State. Land trusts have protected 40 million acres over the last 20 years. For more information on upcoming events, volunteer opportunities or the mission of the Western New York Land Conservancy, please call (716) 687-1225 or visit www.wnylc.org.

Friends of Reinstein Woods partners with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to support educational and stewardship programs offered at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve. To learn more, call (716) 683-5959 or visit www.reinsteinwoods.org.

The Buffalo Audubon Society is a not-for-profit organization that promotes appreciation and enjoyment of the natural world through education and stewardship. For more information call (585) 457-3228 or visit www.buffaloaudubon.org.

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