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Stopping an invasive plant species in its tracks

Friday, November 4, 2022

Stopping an invasive plant species in its tracks

Image: Stopping an invasive plant species in its tracks

Sean VanderWaal and his team of Chippewa Valley Technical College Horticulture Club students took matters into their own hands.

For the second year, students in the club worked to remove an invasive plant species called Buckthorn. Their sights were set on the Putnam Prairie State Wildlife Area off Clairemont Avenue in Eau Claire. Buckthorn works to outcompete native vegetation, taking over the forest floor, utilizing necessary nutrients and changing the entire structure of the forest.

“The goal was to spend the afternoon removing as much of the invasive species as possible in order to encourage the success of our native plants that exist here,” VanderWaal said. “The location was along a major walking trail, which also contributed to the aesthetic value of the property.”

VanderWaal said without this invasive species management, the native species that make the Putnam Prairie special will be displaced. Participating in an activity like this is also an opportunity to be recognized as a leader in arboricultural practices through the national Tree Campus USA certification.

“This was part of our community service for our clubs, and it’s a useful learning tool,” he said. “Being able to identify and successfully manage Buckthorn is an integral part of landscape management in Wisconsin. The project helped students identify and develop the skills necessary to remove each of the plants regardless of size.”

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