Invasive plants like baby’s breath arrived in the Sleeping Bear Dunes area from other parts of the world. Once here, they dominate habitats like dunes and poor, sandy soil crowding out native plants and grasses and over-stabilizing the dunes. The baby’s breath plant blooms with a tiny white flower in summer.
Over the past several years, the Park has worked with the Leelanau Conservancy to remove baby’s breath from critical dune areas in the Park. This is an ongoing effort that will require additional effort by volunteers to help hold the gains that have been made.
During the 2018 field season, the Park’s Invasive Plants Division will be piloting a new volunteer program—the ‘Invasive Plant Brigade’! This program will seek the assistance of volunteers to manually remove Baby’s breath from specified locations, at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. Currently, we are considering site locations to include Peterson Beach, Good Harbor, and/or Sleeping Bear Point. Other sites may also be considered depending on the number of volunteers available. A job description for volunteers in this program is available – click here.
Although we will only be piloting one project for 2018, we realize there may be interest with other Invasive Plants projects, and welcome all suggestions. Our long-term goal is to create a robust volunteer program within our NPS Plant department to assist with the manual removal of multiple species throughout the year, as well as assisting with seed collection efforts. All baby’s breath will be manually removed at pre-determined site locations. We will provide shovels and gloves.
Typically, baby’s breath removal efforts occur late-June through the end of August, but depending on plant development, that timeline can change year to year. Data will be collected by each individual or group for each plant removal effort.
Before the program begins, mandatory training will be provided by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s Invasive Plant department. Training will occur in the field, at one of our site locations. Topics will include safety, plant identification, removal technique(s), and the data collection/submission protocol. Volunteers will enter their report using the Invasive Plant Brigade Report form on our web site. Training will be held in June, but we understand that not everyone may be able to attend the scheduled training, so we will address this issue as it occurs.
Manually removing Baby’s breath is physically demanding. Each individual must work at their own safe-pace. This work will be in areas with uneven terrain, direct sunlight, as well as high heat and humidity. Like all natural areas, you may also encounter biting insects and inquisitive visitors.
There will be no set schedule. You can work whenever you are willing and able! We will have a few scheduled ‘dig-a-thons’, whereby NPS staff will join you in baby’s breath removal efforts, and we look forward to joining you!
Thank you for your interest. We look forward to meeting each and every one of you! The details of this program are still being worked out, and as such, we understand that you may have questions and/or suggestions. All questions and/or suggestions can be directed to Daniel McConnell, the Project Manager for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s Invasive Plant Team. Daniel can be best reached via email: Daniel_McConnell@nps.gov Furthermore, all interested parties are encouraged to reach out to Daniel, so that he may begin developing a list of contacts.