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Volunteers plant wildflowers at belated Earth Day event

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The Hutchings Museum Institute scheduled an Earth Day project planting native wildflowers at the Utah Lake Field Station on April 23, but a Spring snowstorm forced caused the event to be postponed until last Saturday, April 30.

“We had more than 700 people sign up originally,” said Daniela Larsen, Executive Director of Hutchings Museum Institute.Museum staff organized three shifts throughout the day and arranged with a nearby property owner to provide parking near the North Shore Trail. The Utah Lake Field Station is on county-owned property between Lehi and Saratoga Springs.

“We’re taking out the invasive weeds like tamarisk and phragmites and planting native wildflowers,” said Daniela Larsen. “We’re planting milkweed for the Monarch butterflies because that’s the only plant they’ll lay their eggs on.” Twice a year Hutchings releases Monarch butterflies which are tagged to study migratory patterns.

“The numbers of butterflies have dropped so dramatically – all the butterflies and insects are pollinators, and they contribute to the plant life here,” added Larsen.

Granite Seed has mixes of native Utah wildflowers and Hutchings Museum has wildflower plant starts in the museum. Volunteers came with gloves and shovels to clear away weeds and plant the starts in the rich, dark soil near the lake. Larsen is working with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands to make the North Shore Trail more accessible. Wildflowers will be marked and identified to educate people.

Hutchings Museum and Institute’s Utah Lake exhibit is almost complete. John Hutchings collected eggs and data on birds near Utah Lake beginning in the 1930s. “We’ve got a really comprehensive data set thanks to John’s research,” said Larson. “We want to educate people about how important Utah Lake is for migratory birds. This [area] was also a gathering place for several Native American tribes. We’re trying to paint a comprehensive picture of Utah Lake.”

“There’s always something to do here at the lake,” concluded Larsen. The Hutchings Museum Institute has volunteer sign-up options for the Monarch Habitat Restoration, Kestrel Box Monitoring and Wildlife Survey on their website.

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