Habitat conservation

Habitat conservation work at Dahlem – December 2023 Update

Dahlem’s mission is to provide environmental education and outdoor experiences to the residents of South-central Michigan. This includes maintaining natural habitats for you to explore and learn about.

To maintain our natural habitats, we are working to control encroaching invasive species. Invasive species are plants or animals that are not native to our area and cause harm to our ecosystems.

We have been working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) and the district conservationist to create a conservation plan for Dahlem. This conservation plan outlines work over the next several years to improve and maintain habitat at Dahlem. A key goal of this conservation plan is invasive species removal and control.

Unfortunately, many invasive plant species are found here at Dahlem. Autumn olive, buckthorn, oriental bittersweet, and honeysuckle are a few examples. These plants are fast growing and out compete our native plants for sunlight, nutrients, and space.  Invasive species impact the diversity of plants and quality of habitat for wildlife. They also impact the health of ecosystems people rely on.

The first part of our conservation plan will be working to control many of these species. Our focus will be in areas where they have begun to out compete our native plants and take over.  Physical removal, such as cutting and mowing, will be our primary task over the coming months. We will be working with a contractor to do this removal work.

Removing invasive shrubs and vegetation will open up these areas and allow native plants a chance to fill in those spaces. The regeneration process takes time and will need continued monitoring and maintenance.

As you visit Dahlem in the coming months we want you to be aware of the following: 

  • Graphic: Habitat conservation area. What: invasive plant removal. Why: to restore natural habitat. Dahlem Jackson's Nature Place logoYou will see large equipment out cutting down invasive plants throughout the grounds.

  • There will be flagging and signage around the grounds where the work is being done.

  • For your safety, some portions of trails may be closed on the days when work is happening in that location.

  • The change in appearance for some of the areas will be dramatic.

  • There will be a large amount of vegetation and shrubs removed from some areas.

While the changes you will see may seem detrimental, the plants removed are invasive. In the coming years you will see native species return to those locations.

We are grateful to have the opportunity to work with USDA-NRCS on this conservation plan. Completing this important conservation work will help our natural areas flourish.

Learn more about invasive species with these resources: