Radebaugh Preserve gets spring cleaningPublished 10:08am Saturday, April 24, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
It’s Earth Day and that means today, groups all across the country will be doing something to focus on how to better the planet.
Here at home, a couple of Edwardsburg Middle School students and handful of volunteers have already gotten a jump start on making their earth a little greener and a little cleaner.
Abbie Harris and Bailey Thomas were out at Eagle Lake last Saturday clearing brush and cleaning up trash just outside the Michigan Nature Association’s Radebaugh Memorial Plant Preserve in Edwardsburg.
“She’s been the steward for the Radabaugh Memorial Plant Preserve since 2008,” said Abbie’s mother Karen.
“She goes out there and make sure trash has been picked up,” Karen said, adding her daughter also checks to be sure no one has attempted to cut down any trees in the three acre area of the natural preserve, damaged the sign or have had any fires in the area.
The cleanup Saturday was Harris’ way of marking Earth Day and it was very much needed, Karen said.
“In conjunction with Earth Day,” she said, “(Abbie) wanted to do something just to get some people out there and do some clean up at the preserve.”
The Eagle Lake Improvement Association brought around half a dozen volunteers to the site Saturday morning.
Helpers included Patty Patzer, president of the association and Paul Sniadecki, vice president.
“We were thrilled to have them,” Karen said. “They were a big help.”
Brush had blocked the official sign marking the area at the very end of Oak Springs Road.
Abbie’s mother said it would be nice and is a hope that the nature preserve might see some funding in the future, adding that this kind of “wetland habitat is vital for the overall health of the lake.”
This isn’t the first environmental project for Harris nor is it likely to be the last.
Last year the eighth-grader was named one of 12 Young Naturalist Award winners in a contest sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Her project, involving a study of three restored prairies, was originally a 4-H fair project she entered in the Cass County Fair in 2008 as a conservation entry and earned a blue ribbon.
Titled “You’re Fired! The Use of Fire to Eliminate Non-Native Plants in a Prairie Restoration: A Study of Three Restored Prairies,” Harris visited restored prairies at Fernwood Botanical Gardens in Buchanan, the Geneva Prairie in Cassopolis and the Atkinson Dewey Street Prairie in Dowagiac several times over the span of a year to catalog the percentage of native and non-native plants in random samples.
Two of the prairies, the Fernwood Prairie and the Atkinson Dewey Street Prairie, were slated for prescribed burns in the spring of 2008. She again cataloged the plants after the burns to determine if fire could be a tool in ridding restored prairies of invasive, non-native plants.