This article was written by our Summer 2021 intern, Dana Lettl.
In May of 2019, West Creek Conservancy, along with several other partners, including Friends of Euclid Creek and the city of Highland Heights, purchased 37-acre Dusty Goldenrod Preserve as part of a larger mission to improve water quality in and around Northeast Ohio. The preserve is most commonly recognized as the only preserve in Ohio to house Dusty Goldenrod — a state endangered native plant. The 4 wetland habitats found on the preserve are part of the remaining 5% natural wetlands found in Euclid Creek, making this site a hidden gem in Northeast Ohio.
Part of protecting the natural habitats and wildlife in the Dusty Goldenrod Preserve involves the removal of non-native and invasive species. Species such as the narrowleaf bittercress, Canada thistle, and moneywort pose a threat to native Ohio plant species, largely because invasive species can have adverse effects on species diversity and can alter entire habitats. Throughout the spring and summer, it is important that diligent efforts are made to control non-native species populations. Commonly, invasives are hand-weeded at the root before seed dispersal to prevent future generations. Most invasive removal is targeted near stream heads and along stream banks, but it is also important to weed within the open meadows found at the preserve, a critical habitat for the dusty goldenrod.
While weeding plants might seem like a frivolous and mundane task, removing invasive plants can have ground-up benefits for stream and wetland habitats. Nearby aquatic systems can see direct impacts on diversity and density of macroinvertebrates as a result of invasive removal. These macroinvertebrates within our wetlands serve as a living filter for water pollutants — and healthy streams mean healthy water for us.