I Am the Buckthorn Man

Most people don’t see the buckthorn that dominates the understory of our forests here in southeastern Wisconsin. They don’t see it spreading to fill wetlands and abandoned pastures or understand the impact it is having; it’s just another tree — it’s “natural”. But, like the protagonist John Nada (John Nothing) in the great science fiction thriller They Live, I do see the environmental damage that buckthorn is doing.

I hope Willie Dixon doesn’t turn over in his grave when I sing “I am the Buckthorn Man” to the melody of his blues classic Back Door Man. It still sends chills down my spine when I hear him sing and recall the great shows he performed at SummerFest with Sugar Blue on the harp.

This past Wednesday I was working in the Buckthorn Alley and two women, along with kids and dogs, paused as they walked by and one of them exclaimed, “you’re the buckthorn man!” Yes, “Iiiiiiii aaaammmm the Buckthorn Man!

If you are, or want to become, a SuperFriend♥ of The Springs, or you just love The Springs, or you just want to help the Buckthorn Man celebrate his birthday, then come to our open house in Milwaukee on February 16th from 2-8:00pm.  If you have not already received an invite via email and want to come, please contact mePati is going to make some crazy good food and we’ll have beer and wine and a roaring buckthorn fire outside on the patio.  We hope to see you on the 16th!

IMG_1867

I spent two excellent days this past week working at The Springs continuing my effort to open up views along the part of trail that I christened the Buckthorn Alley. The map below shows the progress made so far from the west (shown in black) and the east (shown in white) and the gap that remains. I roughly outlined wetland areas in blue that are filling in with brush (the Buckthorn Man will put a stop to that!)

SSTrailMapBuckthornAlley2-7-14

This was the scene when I arrived on Wednesday morning.

IMG_1857

IMG_1859

IMG_1860

IMG_1861

I was gratified to see that Andy Buchta

AndyBuchta

had paid a visit and made 8 or so brush piles. Needless to say, this is hard work in the current conditions and I really appreciate Andy’s contribution.

I enjoyed a relaxing day and was not perturbed by any technical difficulties with the chainsaw. I experienced a curious, and seemingly contradictory mix of emotions, including deep calm and overflowing excitement. Here is how it looked at the end of the day.

IMG_1863

IMG_1864

IMG_1865

Some classic perspectives of The Springs in the subdued early evening light.

IMG_1869

IMG_1874

IMG_1876

IMG_1879

Yesterday, Friday February 7th, I was back at it. It was a cold, bright sunny, morning and I stopped at the Hotel Springs to get some water.

IMG_1882

IMG_1884

IMG_1885

I resumed where I left off on Wednesday and made a new fire in the same place as last time.

IMG_1886

IMG_1888

IMG_1889

IMG_1890

The views to the interior wetlands are beginning to open up! John, Sue and Tim stopped by to offer encouragement and John said they have seen 20+ robins playing in the springs just north of the Emerald Spring boardwalk. I had a fine day swinging the saw and got farther than expected.

IMG_1893

IMG_1894

IMG_1895

Speaking of the Emerald Spring, some beautifully random organic patterns have emerged in the marl “dunes” at the river bottom.

IMG_1904

IMG_1905

IMG_1906

IMG_1907

Sunset at the Indian Campground.

IMG_1911

IMG_1913

IMG_1916

IMG_1919

IMG_1926

IMG_1931

See you at The Springs! And don’t forget the open house at our place on the 16th.

56 thoughts on “I Am the Buckthorn Man

  1. A reference to They Live and Willie Dixon in the same post, you never cease to amaze me Paul.

    Based on some recent ecosystem management studies (or what has become resilience based ecosystem stewardship studies) – The biomass that the buckthorn composes takes up a great deal of water, “green water”. So now that the buckthorn is being eliminated, more water should be stored in the ground, to be released through the springs, “blue water”. Will the river volume increase? Well, cutting the buckthorn alley down may not have a dramatic change on the Scuppernong River as a whole, but the small feeder spring that you recently uncovered may increase in volume and track it’s way to the main stream.

    $$$Value of a ecosystem services$$$

    The short term reward of maintaining a small natural reserve is the recreational value that the SSNT provides to the patrons that visit the property. The long term reward is the benefit given to an increasingly taxed groundwater supply. As we thank you, Paul, the buckthorn man, we must not only think of the immediate changes in the landscape that you have given us, but the distant gifts of fresh water for future generations.

    • Thanks for that interesting perspective Ben. I should mention that the water level of the Scuppernong River has ranged from .30 feet on 4/3/13 to .48 feet on 9/3/13 and is currently at .34 feet. So, given the data we have so far, it looks like there is a seasonal variation.

  2. Pingback: Buchta Wins Gold in PilingStyle | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  3. Pingback: Kettle Moraine Oak Opening | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  4. Pingback: Buckthorn Alley Rumble | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  5. Pingback: The Buckthorn Barrow | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  6. Pingback: Adventure in South Africa | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  7. Pingback: The Ruby Spring | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  8. Pingback: The Mighty Oaks of Ottawa Lake | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  9. Pingback: I Am Not Buckthorn | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  10. Pingback: The Adventures of the Buckthorn Man | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  11. Pingback: Buckthorn Man Accepts Bitcoin! | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  12. Pingback: Flower Power | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  13. Pingback: Spring Revelations | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  14. Pingback: Weeds “R” Us | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  15. Pingback: Big Jim Steps Up and Out | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  16. Pingback: Reasoning With Weeds | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  17. Pingback: The Woot Of All Weevil | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  18. Pingback: The Return of The Buckthorn Man | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  19. Pingback: Kettle Moraine Land Stewards Coming To The Springs! | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  20. Pingback: The Ottawa Lake Springs | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  21. Pingback: SEWTU — Conserving, Protecting, and Restoring the Scuppernong River Watershed | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  22. Pingback: The Bluff Creek Springs | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  23. Pingback: Pat Witkowski Walks The Wauk | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  24. Pingback: Sexy Buckthorn | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  25. Pingback: The Ottawa Lake Fen Scientific Area | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  26. Pingback: Fire Works at The Springs | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  27. Pingback: The U. S. Government is a Pyschopath | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  28. Pingback: Ugly Buckthorn | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  29. Pingback: The Pike Lake Springs | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  30. Pingback: Winter Break | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  31. Pingback: The Buckthorn Man Calls In Chits | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  32. Pingback: Oakitecture | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  33. Pingback: Marsh Madness | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  34. Pingback: Alchemy At The Springs | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  35. Pingback: Volunteers of America | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  36. Pingback: Oakological Succession | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  37. Pingback: The Buckthorn Man Comes Home | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  38. Pingback: Welcome | The Buckthorn Man

  39. Pingback: The Parker Brothers’ Homestead | The Buckthorn Man

  40. Pingback: Fighting the Good Fight | The Buckthorn Man

  41. Pingback: Return to My Shangri-La | The Buckthorn Man

  42. Pingback: The Ides of Marsh | The Buckthorn Man

  43. Pingback: SEWTU: Trout Stream Therapists | The Buckthorn Man

  44. Pingback: Friends of the Hartland Marsh | The Buckthorn Man

  45. Pingback: Sky Dancing | The Buckthorn Man

  46. Pingback: Buckthorn Resolution | I Am The Buckthorn Man

  47. Pingback: Wild Refuge | I Am The Buckthorn Man

  48. Pingback: Village of Hartland Creates Environmental Corridor Task Force | I Am The Buckthorn Man

  49. Pingback: Famous Springs of the Kettle Moraine | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  50. Pingback: Watercress River | I Am The Buckthorn Man

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.