Phased out

Buckthorn ready for chipping at Harbert Park

We opened up a new front yesterday toward the south end of Harbert Park. There’s a wooded area there that’s frequented by migratory birds. (You can look up some of the sightings on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird hot spot list.) Underneath the towering cottonwoods, the area also is overgrown with invasive trees and shrubs—mostly buckthorn.

Birds use buckthorn, but it is not as healthy for them as the native plants with which they co-evolved. It also chokes out and suppresses growth of other plants. So we are continuing to remove buckthorn and clear the way for a variety of native plants that are much better suited to the birds that visit and use this site.

Buckthorn cutters in Harbert ParkAt the rate this group of hardy regulars is working, we could have the channelside cleared in short order. But we are using a phased approach, working in sections. That gives us time to start plants growing, observe what does well, notice if other plants emerge from the seed bank once the buckthorn is gone, tweak the next plant order—and raise enough money to keep going.  A phased approach also means the birds aren’t left without the cover and berries the invasives have been providing—and it’s less jarring for human neighbors, too. Next clearing dates are Sunday, February 11, and Sunday, March 11, 1:00-3:00 pm. In April, we’ll work alongside a group from Y.O.U. on Saturday the 7th, 10:30-12:15 pm. Let us know if you want to get involved.

— Wendy Pollock