Patoka Lake will celebrate World Migratory Bird Day on the water. Interpretive naturalists will lead a kayaking journey down the lake on at 9:30 a.m. May 11.

Bring your own kayak, life vests, and binoculars, and meet at the South Lick Fork boat ramp no later than 9:15 a.m. Non-motorized boat launch permits are required and will be sold at the event for $5.

For more information, call the Nature Center at 812-685-2447. Patoka Lake (on.IN.gov/patokalake) is located at 3084 N. Dillard Road, Birdseye, IN 47513.

Avoid Planting Invasive Pear Trees

Ornamental pear trees, most commonly known as Bradford pears, have been a popular landscaping tree in Indiana for decades. So popular they are crowding out native Indiana trees.

Therefore, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources encourages homeowners and landscapers to avoid planting such trees and to replace them when possible.

“Over time different varieties of pear have cross pollinated in our urban areas, allowing them to rapidly spread into our natural resources,” said Megan Abraham, director of the DNR Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology.

Cultivated forms of the invasive species are most accurately known as Pyrus calleryana or the Callery pear tree. Commonly available ornamental pear cultivars, all of which are invasive and should be avoided, include Bradford, New Bradford®, Cleveland select, autumn blaze, Aristocrat®, capitol, Chanticleer®, and dozens more.

In addition to being invasive, the cultivars, which are known for their striking white flowers, typically don’t last long. They are structurally weaker and more easily damaged by storms than native trees.

Carrie Tauscher, urban forestry coordinator with the DNR Division of Forestry, says evidence of the trees’ rapid spread is easy to see. “Just take a look for glossy leaved, egg-shaped trees in highway interchanges,” Tauscher said. “It’s common to find them in unmown areas under utility lines and in lots and fields initially cleared for construction that are then left fallow.”

Stopping the spread of invasive plants means selecting alternate trees for yards and forested property. The best tree to replace any invasive tree species is a tree native to a particular region.

If you are looking for an alternative flowering tree for Indiana, serviceberry trees, which have similar white blooms in the spring and fruits attracting wildlife are one option. Eastern redbuds, which grow quickly with eye-catching lavender flowers in the spring, are another option.

To learn more about native trees great for landscaping, visit the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society page at inpaws.org/landscaping.

For more information on all invasive species adversely affecting Indiana and ways to help stop their spread, see dnr.IN.gov//3123.htm.

Register For Indiana Dunes Birding Festival

Celebrate the migration of bird life through the Indiana Dunes region May 16-19 at the fifth annual Indiana Dunes Birding Festival at both Indiana Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes National Park. This year’s event features nearly 150 individual trips, programs, and workshops.

The four-day festival features guided field trips and carpool tours to view migrating birds within the dunes area, bird and nature-related programs and workshops, live bird of prey talks, a native plant sale, and art instructional workshops for both new birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

Evening events include special excursions for night birds, an art exhibition open house, and a family-friendly “birds and brews” social event. Saturday night will feature famed bird writer Laura Erickson, who serves as contributing editor and columnist for Bird Watching magazine.

Online registration for the event runs through May 2 at indunesbirdingfestival.com. Registration may also be made the day of the festival. Daily and youth rates are also available.

The event is organized by the Indiana Audubon Society. Indiana Dunes State Park (on.IN.gov/indianadunes) is at 1600 North 25 E. Chesterton, 46304.

Learn To Fish The River

Come join the DNR for a Family Learn to Fish the River workshop in Elkhart, Indiana on May 18. Families with children age 6 and older can learn basic river fishing techniques and skills at Island Park from 9 a.m. to noon. Attendees will learn about the fish in the Elkhart and St. Joseph rivers. Participants will put their news skills to the test while fishing the two rivers surrounding the park.

The event is free. No fishing license is required for Indiana residents because May 18 is a free fishing day. Poles and tackle will be provided, but anyone interested in bringing their own fishing equipment is welcome to do so.

Advance registration is required. Registration is open until May 15 or until all spots are filled. To register, visit the DNR Calendar: https://bit.ly/2PpqBWr.

The workshop is a collaborative effort between the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the City of Elkhart Public Works Department.

For more information about free fishing days and related events, visit: fishing.IN.gov/3598.htm.

DNR Stocks Morsches Park

The Department of Natural Resources stocked 200 rainbow trout in the north pond at Morsches Park in Columbia City on Friday, April 26.

It is the sixth year the DNR has stocked the pond; however, the educational event traditionally happening the day after the stocking has been canceled because the need has declined.

“We still want families to come out and have a good time, so we are continuing to stock the trout,” Delauder said.

The DNR is placing small, orange-colored plastic tags on 100 of the stocked trout to help count the overall number caught. Small canisters will be posted onsite for anglers to remove the tag and return them. The limit will be five trout per individual angler.

The pond has open access for shore fishing as well as a fishing pier. A restroom facility will be open and ample parking space is available.

For more information on trout stocking, contact the district fisheries office in Columbia City at 260-244-6805.

Alcohol And ORVs Don’t Mix

Indiana Conservation Officers are investigating an Off Road Vehicle (ORV) accident occurring in Washington County early in the morning on April 28. Mark Gumaelius, age 32 of Salem, and one of his two adult passengers suffered injuries as he was operating an ORV on Rooster Hill Road, north of Salem.

Shortly before 1 a.m., Gumaelius attempted to turn onto Rooster Hill Road and lost control and struck a tree. One passenger was transported by ambulance to Schneck Medical Center in Jackson County. Gumaelius was ejected, knocked unconscious and suffered head injuries.

Alcohol is believed to be a contributing factor and as a result, Gumaelius is facing pending charges of Operating an Off Road Vehicle Under the Influence of an Alcoholic Beverage.

None of the occupants was wearing a helmet or using safety equipment.

For more information on Off Road Vehicle Safety, see offroad-ed.com/indiana

‘till next time, Jack

Readers can contact the author by writing to this publication, or e-mail at jackspaulding@hughes.net.