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Brownstone trail pollinator project and partnership
Midwest Region, December 4, 2019
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A portion of the restored area along the Brownstone Trail in Bayfield, Wisconsin.
A portion of the restored area along the Brownstone Trail in Bayfield, Wisconsin. - Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Landmark Conservancy
A monarch and bee.
A monarch and bee. - Photo Credit: Photo by Ted Koehler/USFWS.

The Landmark Conservancy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ashland Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office worked together through the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program to restore pollinator habitat along the Brownstone trail in the small city of Bayfield, Wisconsin.

The Brownstone Trail begins in Bayfield and ends approximately 2.25 miles south at the Port Superior Marina. Located along the Lake Superior shoreline, the Brownstone trail offers shoreline scenic values as it meanders through the coastal forest that is important for migratory birds and other wildlife, the water quality of Lake Superior, and native plant populations. This area is also an important wildlife corridor between Highway 13 and Lake Superior. The trail is popular with residents and tourists alike who enjoy walking/hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and wildlife viewing along the trail.

Once owned by a railroad company, lands adjacent to the trail are now owned by the city of Bayfield and private landowners, many of whom own small parcels and are absentee landowners. The Landmark Conservancy holds trail easements with these landowners which allows for public use and enjoyment of the entire length of the trail. Along the trail, there are many areas with steep slopes of sensitive soils. Runoff from streets can also be observed in the ravines and other steep slopes. Despite that a corridor is zoned “conservancy” by the city to protect the steep slopes. Vegetation is often removed sometimes leading to landslides. Maintaining healthy forest cover and proper land management is important to reduce erosion and protect the water quality of Lake Superior.

The slope had slumped in the project area due to a lack of vegetation which provides soil stabilization. Fill was then brought in and unfortunately, Japanese knotweed was in the fill. Through the years, it grew to dominate the site. The restoration partnership began addressing the Japanese knotweed in cooperation with the landowners and the local weed cooperative group by treating the Japanese knotweed as well as other invasive plants. The site was then prepped for its future planting. Plants were purchased from local nurseries and planted by Landmark Conservancy staff and volunteers following a weed removal activity. Species included little bluestem, lance-leaf coreopsis, butterfly weed, Rough blazing star, pearly everlasting, yellow coneflower, native bee balm, stiff goldenrod, ox-eye sunflower, common milkweed, tall milkweed, and black eyed Susan. Bottlebrush grass and Canada wild rye were placed in the very steep locations to establish quickly and root deeply, and pasture rose and sensitive fern were also used in key locations. In all, over 2,500 plants were planted. This density was chosen as it is appropriate for a native planting, especially in these conditions.

 

The planting was also a wonderful opportunity to educate the neighboring landowners and raise the awareness of monarch butterfly and pollinator habitat planting and the use of native plants and their natural resource values. Other community members as well as visiting tourists in the area will also be educated by the project. Each fall approximately 60,000 visitors descend on the small town of Bayfield and it’s 500 residents for Applefest, which is the region’s premier annual tourist event. The restoration partnership will continue to monitor this planting project and address challenges such as invasive plants as needed.


Contact Info: Ted Koehler, 715-682-6185, ted_koehler@fws.gov
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