Creating a Citizen Science Park

EcoTopic / Project Category
Education & Awareness, Habitat & Wildlife, Outdoor Education & Leadership
Project Goal Summary
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Our Natural Resources and Conservation program is busy at work creating a Citizen Science park for long-term ecological monitoring. By creating a navigable trail system, removing invasive species, and engaging the public in citizen science projects, we hope to inspire residents of Ottawa County to become involved in conservation. 
Project Location
Careerline Tech Center
Ottawa Area Intermediate School District
Holland, MI 49424
United States
Project Goals and News
Phase 1:Wilderness Survival Skills
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The first component of getting to know the property was exploring! We headed out into the woods to learn skills like shelter building, gathering water from transpiration stills, and starting fires with flint and steel. After spending ample time in the wooded area, we had a pretty good idea of where we needed some trails to enhance our explorations. 

Phase 2: Trail maintenance
Using the anecdotal evidence that we gathered from simply spending time in the woods, we were able to determine where we wanted to cut some trails. We used a brush hog to clear the initial trail through the underbrush and then continued to maintain the trail by trimming back trees and brambles with lopers and pruners. Eventually, we had three different trail systems through the woods, for which we gathered GPS data for creating maps in ArcGIS.  

Phase 3: Prescribed browsing
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During the second phase of our project, we began assessing what types of plants we had in our 22.8 acre parcel. Using Gleason's Guide to the Plants of Michigan (a dichotomous key published by the University of Michigan), we learned to identify some plants such as poison ivy, autumn olive, and Virginia creeper. Using quadrat sampling methods, we conducted a GPS-tagged plant survey through the woods in order to determine the highest densities of noxious weeds and invasive species. When we crunched the data, we were able to prioritize the areas of the woods that needed the most work. That's where the goats came in! By setting up a prescribed browsing project, we were able to reduce the use of chemical herbicides to remove the invasive species--the goats do the work for you! 
Tag Your Project
prescribed browsing, citizen science, trail maintenance, parks and recreation, outdoor education

Project Feedback

This looks like an amazing project, thanks so much for sharing! As a next step, I would encourage you to apply for EcoLeader Project Certification. Please let me know if you have any questions along the way and keep up the great work!
  • Posted Thu 26 Oct 2017 11:09 AM CDT

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Avril Wiers
Avril Wiers
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Date Added: Oct 25, 2017
Date Last Modified: Oct 25, 2017

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