The Battle I: Plants

The Battle I: Plants

The battle lines have been drawn. The invasion has begun. The survival of the lakeshore as a unique ecosystem is in question. There are three fronts to the invasion:

I. Plants

II. The Water

III. Man’s Use

The plants of the lakeshore are under attack. The invaders are highly successful because they have unique characteristics that overwhelm the native plant populations. They attack with overwhelming force due primarily to their ability to multiply much more quickly that the native plants. They also literally attack the native plants. The result is that the native plants are choked out and replaced by the invaders.

There are many invaders in the plant kingdom. Most are escaped from the gardens and flowerbeds of men. Among the trees, two especially come to mind, austrian pines and the norway maple.

Austrian Pines are a tough and prolific variety of long needle pine that was planted may years ago to help control the drifting sand by providing windbreaks. Now, the Austrian Pines are being cut down by the DNR in an attempt to stop its spread. It is changing the whole character of the dunes because it stops erosion and shades the round, killing the natives that depend on a moving dune.

The Norway Maple is a beautiful tree in the landscape. However it is spreading into the forests on the shore at an alarming rate. You may think that not a big deal. But, here is the problem: the Norway grows so large and has such a dense leaf canopy that nothing can grow under it. All the native trees, shrubs, and forbs are totally choked out. I’ve seen it. The beautiful diversity becomes a shade desert.

On the forest floor there are three invaders that are doing terrible damage. Vinaca minor, also known as myrtle is one of my favorite shade groundcovers. However, when it escapes from the cultivated landscape it blankets the wooded dune hills with a thick mat that kills all the trillium, dutchman’s breeches and solomon’s seal, as well as the other native wildflowers. Because of its destructive characteristics I will not willingly plant it in the wooded dunes where it can spread.

A second invader escaped from the culinary gardens of European immigrants, it is called mustard garlic. It produces thousands of seeds and is spreading all over the place. In the dunes, special teams of volunteers are trying to stop it from choking out the native plants.

A third, spotted knapweed, is speading rapidly by seed also. It has just been proven that its roots produce a toxin that makes it impossible for other plants to live next to it. I recently was involved in a project to pull it out of a protected site for the Karner blue butterfly where it was killing the wild blue lupine that the butterflies need. This plant is only beginning to make an impact, but, much more will be seen in the near future.

There are only a few safe havens for native plants in the beauty of the native ecosystems left along the lakeshore. I would guess that over ninety percent of the shoreline has been irreversibly corrupted by the invaders. Correspondingly, many of the animal populations have been effected by this devastating change of habitat. I am thankful for the few refuges left where God’s special shoreline handiwork can be viewed. I hope the invaders can be kept at bay.

In the spiritual realm the church is also being attacked by an invasion of false doctrine and ungodly living. It seems that the church world has been overrun by Sabbath desecration, divorce, worldlimindedness, self seeking. Along with it is a denial of God as the Creater, and the sovereign author of all our salvation. The only hope for the church , as with natural plants, is that we guard against false doctrine by study of the Word of God and tear it out root and branch through faithful church discipline. May God give us the strength and fortitude to so fight.

Lifted Up

When waves and waves wash o’er my soul,
Anxiety, guilt, despair.
‘Tis then I know my Saviors love,
I trust His gentle care.

When death and sorrow compass me,
My eyes an empty stare.
‘Tis then my Savior comfort sends,
His heart my sorrows share.

When all alone I suffering walk,
My soul with weariness weighed.
‘Tis then my burden is lifted free,
On Him my hope is stayed.

He lifts me up and sets me high,
Upon a mountain tall.
‘Tis tender mercy raises me,
When on my knees I call.

Deane Wassink
June, 2004