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Restoring resources and changing lives

By Natasha Carlson, Bemidji Field Crew Member / AmeriCorps Member


Work Life

I have been in the Conservation Corps (North District, Bemidji, MN) since June of 2022. I have worked a lot with invasive species. I have been able to backpack spray, killstick herbicide on a variety of invasive species such as buckthorn, honeysuckle, amur maple, siberian elm, paper birch and aspen. I also got to cut with a brush saw or chainsaw, sometimes silky (a small hand saw) and then spray the stump with herbicide. The herbicide that I have used in the past is Garlon 3A and Garlon 4 ultra. Spraying herbicide helps to kill these invasives. We typically remove them to make room for natives to grow, or to create a specific habitat like an oak savanna or a prairie, and sometimes it’s for both reasons. I have also girdled (we use these knives to strip the bark off to expose the wet wood) aspen trees. The reason being when we expose that layer it helps to kill colony species (plant/trees that are connected in an underground system) it will kill the whole system vs. just one plant it takes up to 10 years possibly more to kill the tree. When you clear that out it makes room for natives. We cut down dead trees and put them back in the forest. Sometimes we cut them so that we can carry them. When we do this it gets rid of a dangerous tree and it helps create a habitat and home sometimes food for some plants/trees/small animals.

My yard where I cut and treat buckthorn.

Personal Life

I was already an outdoorsy person even before I joined the Conservation Corps. I have always wanted to help out in nature anyway I possibly could. I typically have my own garden. I start the seeds in the house and eventually plant them outside. I like to keep a couple of plants on my windowsill. I have a lot of trees, some are fruit bearing trees along with some bushes and shrubs. I maintain those and remove invasives myself. Because of the Conservation Corps I have been able to identify invasive species in my own yard. I have been basil barking (where you spray the bark all around the base of the woody species with herbicide) and cut and spray with herbicide. By removing these invasives, especially buckthorn, it has enabled the plum trees the light and nutrients that it needs to thrive and some other native can grow in their place. I typically keep the seeds and try to re-grow the seeds after they dry out.