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See These Bags In The Woods? Leave Them There

For all the effort they put into clearing out the invasive buckthorn from the riverbank forest this spring, volunteers now realize, it may have backfired a bit–effectively reinvigorating the shrubs to come back even stronger.

“We cut one branch off, we cut one stem and six come back,” said David Crary, North Loop Neighborhood Association member. “So that’s just self-defeating.”

Crary and other volunteers are now placing black bags over the stumps to keep them from getting the sunlight and nutrients they need to return next spring. It’s advice they received from Friends of the Mississippi River, a group that has experience dealing with buckthorn.

“Buckthorn is actually one of the worst plants for polluting the river,” Crary said. “You think all plants are good but no, buckthorn actually harms the river.”

By choking out the native species of ground cover plants, buckthorn creates a stronger runoff into the river. The easiest way to get rid of it would be through chemicals, but since our woods are so close to the water, the volunteers are using the bags instead.

Volunteer Andrew Morse is also using a tool that can dig the smaller plants by the roots. We appreciate the work of everyone who’s been giving their time to keep our woods healthy.

By Mike Binkley, North Loop Neighborhood Association

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