Ugly Buckthorn

Winter is a great time of year to appreciate just how ugly buckthorn is.  Contrasted with a majestic oak or stately hickory, the buckthorn’s lack of grace and beauty is readily apparent.  It grows like a cancer, stealing nutrients, water and sunlight from the healthy flora it invades, and some research indicates it has an allelopathic impact as well.  It’s polluting our forests and obscuring the natural beauty of the landscape.

I try to make the best of the opportunity I have to work at The Springs, and that means getting out year-round to do battle with the buckthorn.  But, it is definitely harder to motivate when the temperatures drop and the snow begins to accumulate.  After bailing out last Sunday, I did get out a couple times this week and I’m getting used to winter again.

Tuesday morning fetching some water at the Hotel Springs.

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On my way to signpost #2, I stopped to check out the work that Chris Mann, Ben Johnson and the Kettle Moraine Land Stewards did on Sunday.  That was a nasty day that The Buckthorn Man wimped out on.  They made good progress pushing back the wall of buckthorn on the east side of the trail as it leads to signpost #1.

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I stirred up the coals and warmed up before heading to my destination near signpost #2.

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I picked a spot where a huge aspen had fallen, and there was lots of dead wood to start a fire, and was soon joined by Andy Buchta.

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After a few hours cutting, my chainsaw was running rough and I had to stop and figure out what was going on; there was a part loose rattling about somewhere inside.  There is always something new to learn about chainsaws and, apparently, when I replaced the muffler a few months ago, I did not tighten the screws properly.  Fortunately the saw is designed to capture the screws if they work themselves free and I simply had to screw the muffler back on.  We got modest results and dispatched some very ugly buckthorn.

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Below, looking west, then east.

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I took my gear back to the truck and returned to hang out by the fire.

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Thursday proved to be a bit more challenging; Andy informed me that it was -4 when he arrived, and snow was forecast for the afternoon.  I was joined by Chris Mann, Austin Avellone, Phil Hass, Drew Ballantyne and Andy Buchta deep in the Buckthorn Alley, where the trees were hideously misshapen after years of falling over themselves and resprouting.  The views below are looking west, north and east from where I parked my sled.

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Drew keeps our drinks from freezing.

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We sent many odious buckthorn to hell that day.  Below, mid-day, looking west and north.IMG_4736

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Wrapping up for the day.

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Compare this view west to the first look aboveIMG_4739

and, likewise, this view looking north.

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Thanks again to Chris, Andy, Phil, Austin and Drew; you guys rock!

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See you at The Springs!

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