Buckthorn Alley Rumble

I’ve never been in a street fight, but I imagine it might leave one feeling like I did this morning. Yesterday, Ben Johnson, Zach Kastern and I picked a fight with gang of mute, motionless, defiant and ultimately, defenseless, buckthorn that had invaded “our” territory at The Springs. Their thorny branches and stout, gnarly, trunks were no match for our sharp, steel, chains and our saws whirred their death knell in three part harmony.

“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”
Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Fortunately, we’re not working alone at The Springs, and a team of dedicated volunteers is coalescing to undo the damage that has been inflicted on this “world class site”.  I’m energized and encouraged by the growing level of commitment — the fresh blood (no pun intended) — that all of the new volunteers bring.  It’s going to be a great year!


The last time we were at The Springs, The Buckthorn Man got skunked and left the Buckthorn Alley with his tail between his legs.  With victory so close, it was a hard loss to bear.

God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, the courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.  Reinhold Niebuhr

 I returned to the buckthorn alley yesterday determined to “change the things which should be changed!”  There is a relatively thin curtain of buckthorn separating the trail here from a good sized wetland.

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I started one of Andy’s brush piles on fire and was soon joined by Ben Johnson and Zach Kastern.  We got our saws in tune and they began to sing.


John Hrobar, who has quite a voice by the way, joined the chorus and stoked the fire with freshly cut brush while Sue corralled this wild unicorn that was roaming north of the old barn site.

horsehead tree 01:05

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When the rumble was finally over, and slain buckthorn littered the alley, we gathered round the fire to savor and celebrate our success.

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We left enough daylight to take a walk around The Springs, enjoy the scenery and catch the sunset.


The river bend.


The big valley.


Pati joined us for the sunset at the Indian Campground.

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We finished the day walking the north end of the loop trail from east to west scoping out the last stretch of the buckthorn alley and hanging out by the fire…

See you at The Springs!

4 thoughts on “Buckthorn Alley Rumble

  1. Pingback: Kettle Moraine Natural History Association | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

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