Martin Birchmeier wants to make sure his kids understand the importance of volunteering.

"They like being out in the woods and playing with dad, so I figured this was a good thing to teach them to do when their young,” Martin Birchmeier, volunteer said.

They're spending part of their spring break removing garlic mustard from Fort Custer Recreation Area.  It's part of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' Volunteer Steward program.

"We are focusing on garlic mustard, which is an invasive, non-native plant that taking kind of overtaking the understory here. We have a good troop of volunteers that's pulling that from the understory, it's a lot like weeding," Heidi  Frei, Michigan Department of Natural Resources said.

Frei says if volunteers didn't spend the time pulling this plant up, it would eventually take over, choking out many of the native flowers that attract people to the park. 

"We typically would be doing wood shrub removal this time of year , but because things are leafing out a little earlier than expected, we kind of shifted towards garlic mustard," Frei said.  

It might seem like a small task, but it's an important one. 

"It's fun to be out here anyway. We will definitely try to hookup whenever we have time in out schedule, with that many kids, we do have a tight schedule sometimes. Whenever we can make it out and help out, we will," Birchmeier said.

Here are some upcoming volunteer dates:

  • Saturday, April 7; Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 14; Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County),  10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 15; Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 21; Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo county), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Earth Day, April 22; P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 29; Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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