Joe Geurink grew up in Laketown Township and he and his family regularly walked through Farview Park, enjoying the forest and lakes. As an adult, he did notice something throughout the park, though, that bothered him – the invasive autumn olive.
Now as assistant nursery manager at Alpha Nurseries, 3737 65th St. in Laketown Township, he is helping get rid of that rapidly spreading shrub.
“We’re part of the community,” he said on Friday, Aug. 18, 2023, as he and nine other people wielded chainsaws and herbicide to help eliminate autumn olive from the 87- acre park.
“Growing up you see the plants but perhaps aren’t fully aware of the need or concerns around them, so it has been incredibly neat for me to do a full circle from being a kid walking around there to coming back and being able to help eradicate it now,” Geurink said.
Alpha Nurseries donated its time, workers and equipment for the project, focusing on the main trail and the path around the large pond.
“In our view, public parks should be places that are largely free of invasive species. They should be more along the lines of living and active museums where people can go to observe and participate in a thriving local ecosystem,” Geurink said. “Invasive plants interrupt that goal by displacing native plants, insects, birds and mammals that are negatively impacted by their presence and outcompeting growth rates.”
Invasives can spread from public property to private property.
“As such, public budgets should prioritize spending to control these species for everyone’s benefit,” he added.
Autumn olive was brought to the Unted States from Asia in the 1800s and planted widely in the 1950s for erosion control, according to The Nature Conservancy website. Because it’s a fast-growing plant, autumn olive can push out native species.
Clearing it will give those native plants a chance to grow, said Jeff Busscher, Alpha Nurseries president, as he took a water break from cutting some of the large shrubs.
The crew is expected to be back at the park soon to continue work on the invasives.
Alpha Nurseries is a wholesale seedling company that grows and sells a variety of native plants for habitat restoration and improvement projects.
The donated work at Farview Park, 6257 138th Ave., was approved by the township.
Laketown Township works closely with the Outdoor Discovery Center to control invasives at township parks. The ODC treats Farview Park for Asian bittersweet.