Do you have rare plants? And what do you do if you have them? These questions will be answered Sept. 18 at the Medina County SWCD Annual Meeting.
Guest speaker Judy Semroc, a field representative in the Conservation Outreach Program of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, will explain how they help landowners wishing to learn if they have rare or endangered species on their naturally existing lands (not farmed fields).
Many people who read this column own tracts of land in Ohio, western Pennsylvania and western New York and are unaware of unique plants in small pockets or wetter areas that have been ignored for years.
In some cases, these locations could hold the potential for rare and/or endangered plants, insects, reptiles and animals.
A museum field representative works as a detective and identifies the existence of any rare species. They then catalog their findings and inform the landowners of the results.
If rare species are located, the landowner is educated about the findings and encouraged to protect and even consider preserving the location. If the landowner is interested, the Museum can assist landowners in various preservation programs and processes. Funding sources are either public or private or a combination of both.
Centuries ago, when the last glacier receded, biological communities began to flourish. They were affected by the new soils and topography. In most recent times, humans have altered the biological communities and some remnant populations of these special rare species survive: this is what the Museum is interested in locating. Semroc views her excursions as treasure hunts, or panning for gold or looking for the lost ark.
Semroc also looks for the occurrence of invasive or non-native species of plants. These plants are introduced by humans and are usually not found in the natural habitats in this part of the country. They take up space and quite often overrun or outcompete native plants.
One example of this is multiflora rose, which is highly touted in Europe where intense land uses kept it in check. Once brought here for similar purposes, it quickly became a nemesis to less intense land uses in woods, fields, pastures and fence rows.
According to Semroc, beautiful natural areas being totally taken over by invasive species and creating a monoculture condition.
Additional information about the program is available at that Cleveland Museum of Natural History Office of Conservation and Biodiversity at 216-231-4600, ext. 3505 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
For additional information about the Medina SWCD Annual Meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 18 call 330-722-2628, ext. 3 or visit www.medinaswcd.org . Additional activities will include a buffet dinner for $10, election of two supervisors, awards for Big Tree, conservation teacher of the year and conservation steward of the year.
(Jeff is the District Manager for the Medina SWCD since 2006. Before that he was an area representative with the ODNR Division of Soil and Water Conservation through out Northeast Ohio for most of his career. He worked closely with District Boards of Supervisors and staffs on programs and capacity building.)