Wetland management is something I did not have much experience with in the past  but I dove right into it this week! We focused on two major projects in order to manage some of the wetland habitat in the park. One project was to remove cattails from a pond and the other was to plant a variety of wetland vegetation around a pond. Both of these projects were not easy but they were really fun to do and rewarding.
The first project I will talk about is the cattail removal. Performing this task involved using new equipment that I had never used before. We used a weed razor and a weed rake to remove them. A weed razor is a metal Y shaped apparatus that has blades on the outer edges. There is a rope attached to the end of the handle as well. To use the weed razor you launch it into the water over the cattails, let it sink a little, and then pull the rope back in short tugs to cut the cattails off at the base. The whole weed razor was not light and we all got a great workout form launching it as you can see in the pictures below. So after the cattails were cut we couldn’t just leave them in the water, so we had to use a weed rake next. The weed rake was basically a really large rake with a rope on the end like the weed razor. We had to launch that into the water as well and pull the rope back to collect all the cattails that had been cut down. It was a very tiring task, but we had a lot of fun doing it!
The second project we focused on was planting wetland plants around a pond they are trying to save in the park. The wetland species we worked with included swamp milkweed, buttonbush, lizards tail, water willow, and tickseed. These plants needed to be planted around the edges of the pond but varied in how close to the water or submerged they were depending on the species. We had a park fun day where they brought together park staff from all departments to work on a few major projects around the park. Our wetland vegetation planting was one of the projects so it was fun having park staff from other departments come out and help us and learn about what we do everyday! With their help we were able to get a good amount of planting done but we had so many wetland plants we had to come out another day to finish the planting. Here are some pictures of me planting with my team and other park staff!
I mentioned it above but we also had park fun day this week! Park fun day was planned by one of the NPS employees at the park and brought together NPS staff from all the departments in the park to work on a few major projects. The projects we all worked on were wetland trail maintenance, putting gravel around a historic monument, and wetland planting with us! After we all worked on our assigned projects all morning we had a big barbecue to get to know staff in other departments and play games. Overall it was a really great day and I hope they continue having park fun day here at at Manassas National Battlefield Park. I believe it’s important to bring the whole staff together and do some team building and I hope this is something they do at other parks as well! It has been a really great week and I’m looking forward to more new experiences next week!