Freeing the Fen – Volunteer Victory Over Invasive Species

Marie Wilson
Michigan Nature Conservancy
Marie Wilson grew up in Michigan enjoying wildlife and natural spaces from the west end of the Upper Peninsula to south eastern Metropolitan Detroit. A graduate of Michigan State University, Marie works for Ford Motor Company in Emissions Compliance. She enjoys volunteering, travel, skiing, paddle boarding and boating along with her husband, Matthew. She has been volunteering with TNC at the Ives Road Fen Preserve since 1999.

The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Ives Road Fen Preserve, discovered in 1979 contains 100 acres of healthy prairie fen. In the 1980’s, farming efforts to drain the water had allowed invasive species (glossy buckthorn) to thrive, leaving only 5 acres of fen. As the drainage system was deconstructed in the 1990’s, a dedicated group of volunteers coalesced. Using pruning tools and herbicide applicators invented by the team, volunteers and TNC staff set out to eradicate the buckthorn threatening the fen. Many saw the task of eliminating buckthorn as one that would take generations to accomplish. Undaunted, the team drew in volunteers from corporations, activist groups and the community. Regular Saturday work days, progress feedback, recognition and social events have helped build momentum. The fen is now free from buckthorn and the team has been clearing other invasive species from the now more than 700 acre preserve. Volunteer perseverance has paid off!

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