The buck stops here: AmeriCorps volunteers help clear invasive plant at Jay C. Hormel Nature Center
Published 10:26 am Monday, June 2, 2014
Larry Dolphin’s third-grade compass class can no longer walk through some of the areas in the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center due to a relentless shrub called buckthorn.
But members of AmeriCorps worked to change that Saturday as they cleared the invasive buckthorn from the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center.
As the executive director of the Jay C. Nature Center, Dolphin foresees the plant being a problem if allowed to continue growing at its current rate.
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“We want the nature center to be diverse; we don’t want it to be a monocle of just buckthorn,” Dolphin said.
Though it does provide shelter and food for some animals, buckthorn takes over the area it grows in, and leaves no room for any other plant, according to Dolphin. A big problem starts to occur when trees start to die, because new saplings can’t grow through the buckthorn to replace fallen trees.
Dolphin said there wouldn’t be a problem if the shrub was willing to share the space, but since that isn’t the case, they have to continue to remove it.
He said it will be a constant battle to get rid of the woodland shrub, and they will more than likely have to clear it out again in a few years.
“If you want a forever job, buckthorn removal is probably a forever job. But we’re going to keep working on it,” Dolphin said.
Mitchel Duran, a member of the AmeriCorps group, agrees the shrub has become a problem.
“It’s a growing problem and it’s hard to remove,” Duran said. “You need to be constantly on it until it gets out of the area.”
Duran said the plant has started to actually dry out the area, which is bad for other plants and trees.
“We want to conserve the environment here,” Duran said.
The group, from Vinton, Iowa, will be in Austin until June 12 doing several service projects. They are working with Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross, and they have housing lined up with St. Olaf Lutheran Church.
The group contacted Dolphin after they heard he could use their help. They decided to work on the area Dolphin’s classes use, which is about the size of a football field, according to Duran.
Duran said the seven-person group averaged about one to three plants per person per minute, and he hoped to have the area almost cleared by the end of the day. The group is returning to the nature center next Saturday to continue working on clearing the shrub.