Throughout the country existing plant communities are being seriously threatened by invasive plant species. Active management to control invasive plant species is essential to restoring the health of plant communities.
Minnesota School of Business students in the Global Citizenship class and Service Learning Coordinator and instructor Joel Bisser worked with Great River Greening and over 100 other volunteers to rid the shoreline of Colby Lake in Woodbury of buckthorn on Saturday, Oct. 20. By clearing the shoreline of buckthorn, the view of the lake on the south side has been restored. In addition, native oak tree saplings will be able to get the sunlight and nutrients that buckthorn robs from them.
Students learned about the importance of ecological sustainability in their own neighborhoods and also learned that they can, in fact, have an impact on this issue.
While many environmental issues seem out of reach for most, helping Great River Greening and the City of Woodbury changed a reality for students in the Global Citizenship class: “I guess we can work towards change, even if it’s an acre at a time,” said one student who participated in the event, “and we have to start in our own backyards. Now I know we can leave an impression and make an impact and that is empowering.”
Buckthorn was originally brought to the United States from Europe as a popular hedge and wind break, but it quickly became invasive because it out-competes native plant species for light, water and nutrients. Since it chokes out native trees and plants, it also degrades natural wild life habitat.
Buckthorn is a serious issue across the south Twin Cities metro in Minnesota and can be found in many backyards and city and state parks, but there is hope and life after buckthorn!
Persistence is important in battling this invasive plant. Cut and remove older buckthorn plants and burn (it is illegal in the State of Minnesota to transport buckthorn). Young buckthorn saplings are easily uprooted by hand. You can plant native shrub species such as Dogwood (Silky, gray, or red-twigged), Red Cedar, Speckled Alder, Serviceberry, High-bush Cranberry, American hazelnut and Chokeberry in place of buckthorn.
For more information about buckthorn and how you can restore your backyard and parks, please visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.
For more information about Great River Greening and their restoration and preservation efforts, visit www.greatrivergreening.org.