Participation in community science has been on the rise as an engaging way to spend one’s time outdoors either solo or with family. The input from community scientists massed together can be a powerful tool for data collection and lead to impactful change. Community science is on-the-ground work that can cater to many interests! A few local examples are the Bird Collision Corps through the Madison Audubon Society where volunteers strive to collect data with the goal of meaningful policy change, monarch butterfly tagging that tracks population movement and survival rate during migration, and surveying bumble bee species through the Wisconsin Bumble Bee Brigade

Oenanthe javanica, or "Water Celery"
Photo credit: Jeff Steele

One success story we would like to share hits close to home – and stemmed from a community science observation right on Starkweather Creek. Jeff Steele, a member of Friends of Starkweather Creek, noticed and recorded the presence of a problematic plant species called water celery, scientific name Oenanthe javanica. This introduced species is prohibited by the WI DNR and can cause widespread ecological harm, especially to wetland and riparian areas. Early detection is key to preventing spread of species like water celery into our spaces that are carefully managed for diverse native habitat, and so the reporting of this population – which was the first observation in the area – has proved invaluable.Spurred by this one report, the City applied for and was awarded an

Aquatic Invasive Species Control grant through the Wisconsin DNR. Work will be conducted in 2023 and beyond to control the existing population of Oenanthe javanica and monitor spread. The Engineering Division would like to give a huge shout out to Jeff and to the Wisconsin DNR for providing grants to protect the health of Wisconsin’s waterways.If you are interested in monitoring our local ecosystem for problematic species, check out the Early Detection and Rapid Response Program.

Blog Author: Engineering Division Conservation Technician Emily Jorgensen.

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