Environmental Education Resources
Instruction for EcoSteward plot survey (copies of instructions & survey data sheets can be obtained from Tool Cache Box)
Step Method of Sampling Invasive Species in the Como Woods Outdoor Classroom (percent of coverage)
Below is a method to easily and quickly sample the percentage cover of invasive plants in the Como Woods Outdoor Classroom. The step method is simple, easy, quick, and repeatable. These instructions are to sample garlic mustard, burdock, bare soil, or other plants (do not need to identify).
The step method relies on being able to count your paces, identify the plants mentioned above covering your toe, and then the plants and multiplying by 2. You will start off by place a piece of tape on the tip of one shoe. You will take a pace. A pace is two steps - a step with the foot without the tape, then a step with the foot with the tape. Use your normal pace, there is no need to measure it. The second step is always the one that has the tape on it. You are going to tally each hit in 50 paces. If there is time you many do more than one line of 50 paces, but the math becomes more complicated. See data sheet for where to record data.
A hit means that garlic mustard, burdock, or other plant is touching the tape or obstructing the sightline between your eye and the tape on your toe. If no plant is within that sightline, it gets recorded as bare soil.
If part of the plant such as burdock which has very larger leaves is directly over the tape and would touch if it was lower, then you that as a hit. Parts of the plant that count are leaf, flower, seedhead or stem, basically any exposed part of the plant works. If the plant is bent over, it can be counted if the footwear is not the cause of the bending. If more than one plant of the same species is along that sightline, count it as one hit for that species. If more than one species covers the tape, you count each species once. For example, if a garlic mustard plant is under a taller burdock, then count them both. If more than one garlic mustard plant is a hit at the same step, just count one hit. If no plant is along that sightline, record it as bare soil.
The estimated percentage of cover for each invasive species in your section is calculated by multiplying by 2 the total number of each species, if you have done 50 observation points. This will give you the % cover for that area. Be aware that the total % cover of the area may be greater than 100% if you add up all species.
Sampling will be done periodically from early spring to mid summer as you able. Garlic mustard will start growing in early spring—late April to early May. It is best to sample for burdock in June before the leaves get too big.
List of supplies—note the tally sheets, clip board, pencils will be located in the Como Woods lock box.
- brightly colored duct tape
- pad of paper or tally sheet
- clip board
- pen or pencil
- PROVIDE YOUR OWN covered footwear: shoes or boots; sandals do not work well.
- Attach a narrow (1/4 inch wide and 1/2 inch long) piece of brightly colored duct tape at the point of one of your footwear (photo of shoe with tape). A wider strip of tape would result in too many plants hitting the piece of tape. Place it where you can see it when you stand up, and you can also see it when your foot is placed down and you don't have to bend over to see where the tape is. When you start walking you will always start with the foot that does not have the tape on it.
- Choose a starting point. Start somewhere in your ecosteward section, look for spots where you can walk 50 paces without too many obstacles such as trees. Ignore topography, go up and down slopes as necessary. Start no closer than 10 feet from a road or trail and walk perpendicular away from it (don't cross). Stop if you get within 10 feet of a road or trail. If you haven't gone 50 paces, walk 10 feet (at least 2 paces) perpendicular from your original track, either left or right, and go back parallel to the original track to continue the sample starting at the number of paces you already walked and continue to 50 paces.
- To start the sample, stand at your starting spot with feet together and look in the distance for a line-of-sight; this will help you walk a straight line. It could be a tall or unique tree, rock, downed log, building, etc., anything that you can see at a distance and won't move. Take a step with the non-taped foot then take a step with the taped foot, this is a pace. Look down, don't bend over, if a plant has touched the tape, record whether it is a garlic mustard, burdock, other plant or bare soil. If there is, mark it on your sheet for that observation point. You do need to keep count of your pace as long as you always mark something for each observation point. Do 50 paces in as straight line as possible, then stop. If you have time you may move to another area in your section and start again.
Quick Instructions: (put this on a 3x5 card or any pocket size card suitable to carry in the field)
1) attach tape to one shoe;
2) navigate to starting point;
3) choose line-of-site to set track direction;
4) start a pace with the shoe without the tape, one pace is two steps;
5) at the second step look down and determine if a garlic mustard, burdock, other plant
or no plant (bare soil) is hitting the tape;
6) check off the species for that correct pace number and column
7) walk 50 paces tallying each hit;
8) after 50 paces, total number of hits for that tract and multiply it by 2 to get percent
cover (if you do fewer or more paces: [# hits/#observation points] x 100%)
9) when sample is completed, record the calculated data on the electronic form and
return the data sheet to the plastic folder in the Como Woods lock box (No data sheet goes home)
The following websites contain a variety of resources,
many of which can be used the generate lessons for use in the Como Woodland.
MN DNR Educational Programs
Wisconsin’s K-12 Forestry Education curriculum, LEAF
Project Budburst - Citizen Science Using Phenology.
Great Lakes Worm Watch
Finding My Forest-grades 3-8
For St. Paul Public School teachers:
Belwin Outdoor Science
2019 Survey results of all the combines CWOC Nature Walks