Saturday, May 14, while some were racing in the rain to cross the finish line at the Riverbank Run, others were involved in a different kind of race right here in Rockford—the race to save our beautiful native Michigan spring flowers from being overrun by invasive plants like garlic mustard and Dame’s rocket. About 20 volunteers joined forces on the White Pine Trail between Belmont and 12 Mile Road to pull 28 large blue bags of garlic mustard. The bags will be registered with the Stewardship Network, which hosts a statewide competition each spring to see who can pull the most. So far this spring, over 21,422 pounds of garlic mustard have been registered with the Stewardship Network. That’s over 10 tons! So, what is garlic mustard and why is it so bad? Garlic mustard is an invasive plant that was brought over to the United States by European settlers as an herb. Unfortunately, with none of its native competitors present, garlic mustard has spread virtually unchecked across the country and can be found in over 30 states as well as parts of Canada. Not only do these invasive weeds choke out native wildflowers by out-competing them for space and sunlight, but they also excrete chemicals through their roots, which prevent the growth of our native wildflowers and other plants, including trees. Without a diet of native plants to eat, our wildlife suffers too. The struggle will continue until the plants go to seed. So if you see someone stuffing plants into a bag, stop and thank them or, better yet, join in! For more information about garlic mustard and other invasive species, visit the Stewardship Network website at www.stewardshipnetwork.org or e-mail Mindy Miner at email@example.com.