After a long hiatus, The Buckthorn Man has returned, chainsaw in hand, to The Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail. The winter of 2014-2015 was one of relentless attack on the bane of the Kettle Moraine and by the time I quit cutting there on April 1, 2015 my reservoir of aggressive energy was exhausted. I took solace in the Alchemy At The Springs wrought with Stihl and Sweat: “Out of Darkness, into Light”. There is light at the end of the buckthorn tunnel at The Springs and, with a little help from my friends, we will resolve the dissonance of buckthorn into the consonance of prairie, woodland and meadow.
The Buckthorn Man recorded this video on new year’s eve while standing on the west end of the buckthorn alley.
Therein I sketched out a plan for this winter’s cutting season describing burning snow covered brush piles and shining a light into the darkness of the buckthorn thicket. A resolution is the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones — the act of answering or determining — and I think I have an excellent approach to cutting buckthorn this year. We are going to focus on the area outlined in yellow on the map below. This is the last upland area within the loop trail that is still covered by a buckthorn thicket and I don’t think more than a handful of people have threaded their way through it recent years.
The areas in red above mark the three locations where we cut buckthorn in the last week. The blue circle indicates a large wetland area that is relatively open. I am going to focus on clearing the area within the yellow circle this winter and just see how far we can get. Each workday will consist of: picking a central location among the buckthorn to start a fire, digging a hole in the snow, cutting and collecting standing dead buckthorn, lighting a fire, and finally, feeding the fire with the surrounding freshly cut buckthorn. This is the approach that The Friends of Lapham Peak (and many others) use and I have found it to be very efficient and effective. So, if you are looking for something different to do on a cold winter day, watch my Upcoming Volunteer Events calendar feed on the Home page, or, better yet, subscribe to my volunteer workday events calendar via the Volunteer page, and meet me at The Springs or any of the other excellent places where I volunteer.
On new year’s eve day Andy Buchta joined me and we had a fine day cutting and burning in the topmost area marked in red on the map above. Thanks Andy!
On Sunday, January 3, I returned to work in the area marked in red on the right on the map above. During our recent workday with the Southeast Wisconsin Trout Unlimited group on the Scuppernong River, DNR Fisheries Biologist Ben Heussner suggested we return to the area when there was snow cover and transport brush piles over to the river to use to backfill behind the biologs we installed. That is what The Buckthorn Man is discussing in this video.
I realized then that my original plan to burn all the brush piles there was no good, instead, we should make new piles and burn fresh buckthorn. It’s hard to believe that a liar like The Buckthorn Man could have any friends, so I was a little surprised, and it warmed my heart, when Andy Buchta, Lindsay Knudsvig, Ben Johnson, Joe Winn and Chris Mann showed up to help me. We had a great time, got a hell-of-a-lot of buckthorn cut, and revealed 5 or 6 large burr oaks and a cluster of 4 huge black oaks that you can see in the background of the group shot below.
Clearing buckthorn to expose an oak tree is what it’s all about for me. We got to do it again on Tuesday, January 5 when Andy Buchta joined me in the third area marked in red on the lower left of the map above. I scoped out the worksite and identified three spots to make fires and we got after it.
The weather reports on the nightly new have been sounding the alarm that “bitter cold” temperatures are coming — be very afraid. Nevertheless, I did appreciate the bright sun and comfortably warm conditions on Tuesday while cutting some monster buckthorn trees. The highlight of the day was uncovering 3 relatively young burr oaks.
I’m looking forward to joining my friends Zach, Ginny and Jared on Saturday, January 9, at Bluff Creek East to continue clearing buckthorn from around the springs that form the headwaters of the creek.
Join me at the Village of Hartland Board meeting at 7:00pm on January, 25 at 210 Cottonwood Ave. in Hartland, where we will be discussing the The Village of Hartland Comprehensive Development Plan: 2035 (See the Hartland Marsh project page for more details).
See you at The Creek!