Volunteers and Invasive Plants: Learning and Lending a Hand link

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
America's National Wildlife Refuge System

Volunteers and Invasive Plants: Learning and Lending a Hand

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Buckthorn Across Borders: Protecting Native Wet Meadows, Minnesota Valley NWR, Minnesota

The Minnesota Valley NWR is situated along the Minnesota River in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as nearby suburban areas. The refuge staff is striving to restore and maintain native landscapes including some of the last native oak savannah in Minnesota.

To that end, the refuge has partnered with several organizations to remove invasive plants such as buckthorn, garlic mustard, purple loosestrife and spotted knapweed. “We’re always looking for partnerships,” says Refuge Operations Specialist Chris Trosen.

The Minnesota Valley NWR works with the Hubert H. Humphrey Job Corp., Minnesota Conservation Corps., Boy and Girl Scout troops, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR), and local communities.

“We’re lucky to have three million people in our backyard,” says Trosen. And the refuge staff knows how to take advantage of that. Through collaboration between the City of Bloomington, MNDNR, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the refuge hosted an event called “Buckthorn Across Borders.”

Volunteers met at a local business’ parking lot and were shuttled to three sites to mechanically pull out buckthorn—a tall shrub or small tree that displaces native meadow species. After working, the shuttles returned volunteers to the lot for lunch and an opportunity to peruse interpretive stations set up by other agencies doing invasive plant work.

The refuge’s Landscape Management Plan, completed in 1994, promotes “native species and natural processes.” Through partnerships and collaboration, the Minnesota Valley NWR is getting closer to that goal.

Learn more about habitat management, land restoration, and partners at this refuge:
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Photo of graduate student discussing the problem of buckthorn with volunteers.
Graduate student discussing the
problem of buckthorn with volunteers
Photo of one of the 200 volunteers helping on the Buckthorn Across Borders project.
One of the 200 volunteers helping on
the Buckthorn Across Borders project
Photo of college students mechanically treating buckthorn.
College students mechanically
treating buckthorn
Photo of Lunch provided to volunteers by Job Corp Food Service.
Lunch provided to volunteers by
Job Corp Food Service

Photo credits: USFWS