Returning to the Buckthorn Site: Later in the Year

Green growth in a field

By Karolyn Preiss, Three Rivers 3 Field Crew Member / AmeriCorps Member

The Three Rivers Forestry and Nursery Crews began their Conservation Corps journey when the snow was still falling. It was dark as night as we pulled daily into the Crow-Hassan Nursery parking lot to get the plan for the day from our Site Manager, and more often than not the assignment in those days was “moonlighting in the buckthorn,” I would tease. We would be asked to drive out to Lake Rebecca Park Reserve to hack and treat buckthorn or do a clear cut then apply herbicide. The team would generally take our time in collecting our chainsaws, hatchets, and chemical applicators, so technically the sun would hit the horizon before we actually began our days’ work. But, I could still joke, looking out the dark windows at 6:30am in the morning, “‘Moonlighting in the Buckthorn.’ It sounds like a down-home-Minnesotan country song.”

a snowy field with trees in the background
The Lake Rebecca Site in Winter

As the weeks went by, Buckthorn started piling up and more trees were girdled than weren’t. We were making decent progress and got to expand our assignment–covering more ground and taking down more buckthorn– just about doubling the anticipated acreage of land treated.

It was amazing to see how the landscape changed. As I wrote in a previous blog, you could not only see the change but feel the change, too. The land had a new lease on life. It was full of potential as we made our way into summer.

The new season brought with it a new assignment: tree plantings at the Lake Rebecca site. With the plantings came a sweet, productive exhaustion that made swapping to a new location a blessing.

a dusty field in spring
The Lake Rebecca Site post-tree planting.

Weeks to months went by. It had been quite a while since I made my way back to our site at Lake Rebecca, and I was struck again by how much the place had changed, even since the tree plantings.

All of our cut wood was covered in green, and the area was transformed yet again.

Most of the green was buckthorn or weeds, which is probably to be expected. It was still amazing.

The bare-root trees that we planted were growing tall and putting some leaves on here and there, too, adding more to the vibrant green.

Revitalization. Fresh growth.

The land was virtually unrecognizable.

And it was beautiful.

I can’t wait to come back next year or the year after to see what changes have been wrought with the passing of time.
What will come next for the Lake Rebecca site?
We will all get to find out. And, that will be a beautiful, beautiful adventure.
Oh. And. If you actually want to go moonlighting in the buckthorn, now might be your best chance because it may be gone from our site within the next few years.

Strangely though, I think you may still be able to find it around… Does anyone have a banjo?

Green growth in a field
Lake Rebecca now.