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Service Learning

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Service Learning


LaustenGeography 125




My Service Learning partner was the Milwaukee County Park and




History of the Milwaukee County Parks


park system has been a source of pride for the communities of Milwaukee County in southeastern Wisconsin. With over 140 parks and parkways totaling nearly 15,000 acres, our parks offer many places for recreational enjoyment for citizens and visitors. Our park system began with the creation of The Milwaukee County Park Commission on August 20, 1907. Although parks had already been established within the limits of the City of Milwaukee by the City Park Commission, the visionary new County Park Commission had a much broader goal for the park system. Early Commissioners thought of a park system that would form a "green belt" or series of scenic drives and parks circling the county. Parks were located in outlying areas to allow for population expansion. Commissioners selected land not only for its natural beauty and interest, but also for its fitness for various forms of active recreation.


Mission Statement



The purpose of my service learning project was to do research on 3 invasive species. Once I was done with the research I was to develop a sign for each one that could be placed within the Milwaukee Parks system.

3 Invasive Species

Garlic Mustard

Common Buckthorn

Japanese Knotweed


Notes on Garlic Mustard



biennial, 12"-40"


forming large, dense mats, first year plants an evergreen, basal rosette; stems mostly


, hairless

Flower: white, 4-parted, 1/3" wide, petals rounded at the top, narrowing towards the base; flowers a short, terminal cluster (raceme) of stalked flowers; blooms April-JuneFruit:long, thin, 4-angled pods, both horizontal and pointing upwardLeaf:alternate, coarsely toothed, stalked, strong garlic smell when crushed; lower kidney shaped, upper triangularHabitat: partial shade, shade; moderate moisture to moist; woods, woods edgesNotes: to eradicate, hand pull, bag-up and remove if flowering; herbicide in early spring or late fall with glyphosate

Garlic mustard is an exotic species introduced from Europe by early settlers for its supposed medicinal properties and for use in cooking. It is widely distributed throughout the northeastern and Midwestern U.S. from Canada to South Carolina and west to Kansas, North Dakota, and as far as Colorado and Utah. In Wisconsin, the plant is currently concentrated in the southeastern and northeastern counties, although distribution records indicate its presence is nearly statewide

In our areas, seeds lie dormant for 20 months prior to germination, and may remain viable for five years. Seeds germinate in early April. First-year plants appear as basal rosettes in the summer season. First-year plants remain green through the following winter,


Notes on Common Buckthorn


erect, perennial, to 20' tall tree, dark bark marked with lenticels


blue-black berry


dull green, toothed edges

Both common and glossy buckthorns are tall shrubs or small trees reaching 20-25 feet in height and 10 inches in diameter. Most often they grow in a large shrub growth form, having a few to several stems from the base. The shrubs have spreading, loosely-branched crowns. Their bark is gray to brown

Buckthorn is rapidly spreading in Wisconsin. Although their aggressively invasive growth patterns have created problems in many areas, exotic buckthorns are still sold andplanted as ornamentals.

Common buckthorn flowers from May through June . The fruit ripens August through September.

Seedlings establish best in high light conditions, but can also germinate and grow in the shade.

buckthorn leaves come out very early and retain their leaves late in the growing season. They shade out native wildflowers because of this.


Notes on Japanese Knotweed

A perennial that grows to heights of 5-10 feet in large clones up to several acres in size. The arching stems are hollow and bamboo-like, a reddish-brown to tan color; they die, but remain upright through the winter. Mature leaves are 3-5” wide and 4-9” long, lighter on the lower surface, and egg to spade shaped; young leaves are heart-shaped. Lacy 2 inch long clusters of tiny greenish-white flowers are produced in late summer and held upright at the leaf base.

Japanese knotweed reproduces occasionally by seed, but spreads primarily by extensive networks of underground rhizomes, which can reach 6 feet deep, 60 feet long, and become strong enough to damage pavement and penetrate building foundations


It grows in a variety of habitats, in many soil types, and a range of moisture conditions. Of particular concern is its tendency to invade valuable wetland habitat and line the banks of creeks and rivers where it often forms an impenetrable wall of stems, crowding out native vegetation and leaving banks vulnerable to erosion when it dies in winter.

It is also found along roads, railroads, utility pathways, and strip-mining areas. In addition to spreading by rhizomes and seed, it is often spread by streams, by transportation of fill dirt, or through roadside plowing.

Attempting to remove Japanese knotweed by pulling or digging is ineffective due to its extensive roots; it may even promote further spreading if pieces of the plant are not disposed of properly.

Herbicide application has been effective, when the entire clone is treated repeatedly.



Purpose of Signs

The purpose of developing signs of invasive species for the park system is to make the public aware of what each invasive species is. Also, how to identify these invasive species in public areas and in or near one’s own yard. The Milwaukee County Park and Rec. wants the public to know about these invasive so that the invasive can be controlled at a local level. If the public has a good knowledge of these invasive at a local level. In turn it should spread to other local communities and then to a regional or national level.



For the organization to solve environmental issues, the signs for invasive species are produced. This process and advertisement is crucial for the public to be aware of these all-encompassing plants. Some limitations that could cause a hindrance on a project such as my own, is the illegal removing of these signs, as well as public park users that don’t pay attention.In this case, acting locally is the most extreme one needs to act upon. To be aware, courteous and conscious of the invasive species will benefit not only the parks, but those whom use the park systems.

Milwaukee County Park and Rec. does a “Weed out” in early spring to help the public be aware and to control these invasive plants.


Visual of developed Garlic Mustard Sign

Created By: Scott



Japanese Knotweed


Created By: Scott Lausten

Visual Of


Visual of Common Buckthorn Sign

Created By: Scott Lausten








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