Volunteers pose in front of Frontenac Pond.

Improving the view at Frontenac State Park

The Frontenac State Park Association couldn’t have picked a better day. Sandwiched between days of forecasted rain, Wednesday, May 29th dawned clear and sunny, with a cool breeze that alleviated the early-summer heat. Frontenac State Park was in its element, bursting with green foliage, colorful late-spring flowers, and pollinators of every description. The Association, with grant funding from Parks & Trails Council, had plans to make it even more scenic.

The park’s wildlife blind sits at the edge of Frontenac Pond and allows visitors to the park to discreetly observe the migratory birds that flock there every year. Recently, however, the view had become severely compromised by thickets of invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle, and so the Association applied for funding from P&TC to restore it to its former glory.

The small group of volunteers who convened at the blind brought hand tools, pails of trees and small forbs, and several bright yellow bags of native seed. In addition to members of the Association, Lisa Filter and Phoebe Ward of P&TC were also in attendance. The Association had cut down the thickets of honeysuckle and buckthorn a few weeks before, and now it was time to replace these invasives with Canada wild-rye, dogwood trees, butterflyweed, and other, more desirable plant species. As birds sang  in the pond and mosquitoes buzzed around their heads, these volunteers cut back new growth on the stumps of the invasive plants and treated them with herbicide, prepared the soil with a gentle raking, planted the trees and forbs, and liberally scattered the seed mixes across the area. The Association had planned this carefully, and their organizing paid off – all of this work was completed within the space of a mere two hours.

The Association’s hope is that the recent pattern of abundant rainfall will hold for the next few weeks, nurturing both seed and seedling until these native species outcompete whatever remains of the buckthorn and honeysuckle. With some good luck – and a little favorable weather – they will see their goal realized, and the wildlife blind at Frontenac State Park will continue to offer stunning views for many years to come.

Photo: Steve Dietz/Frontenac State Park Association