Buckthorn Removal at Hofstetter Conservation Park, Mount Horeb

Contact:
Jeff Gorman, Parks and Forestry Director
Village of Mount Horeb
138 E. Main St., Mount Horeb, WI 53572
(608) 437-7190
jeff.gorman@mounthorebwi.info

The 21-acre Duane R. Hofstetter Conservation Park contains approximately 7 acres of dense invasive species which is primarily buckthorn. High School ecology classes and other volunteer groups have not been able to make much progress in removing the buckthorn due to the size of the plants and the labor required to remove them. The grant allowed the Parks and Forestry Department to contract with a company to forestry mow a significant portion of the buckthorn stands – approximately 3-4 acres.

The long-term goal for the project area is to convert the invasive species into an area comprised of native plant communities. The short-term goals, in which the grant was the key, include removing the dense buckthorn, improving the aesthetics of the park, improving the access to the park by creating additional trails, providing educational opportunities and increasing park usership. The project parallels the Environmental Council’s mission of protecting and restoring the county’s natural areas and providing educational opportunities in the process.

Using funds from the Environmental Council grant and Village of Mount Horeb, we were able to contract 16 hours of forestry mowing at the park on November 7th and 8th. There were four areas within the park that were mowed as a first priority. The park’s entrance area and an adjacent hillside were mowed to enlarge an area where we had been doing some restoration work and to improve the aesthetics by exposing some large, mature oak and cherry trees. Another target area was a south facing slope that had evidence of native prairie grasses growing on some of the exposed areas. Finally, a trail was created through a wooded area providing access to a part of the park that had been difficult to access prior to the mowing. Parks and Forestry Department staff followed up immediately after the forestry mowing with 13 man-hours of herbicide treatments on as many of the stumps that they could find using Triclopyr with a dye and backpack sprayers.

Again, the primary outcome of the project is the reduction of the dense buckthorn community which includes the heavy seed producers. In the near future, I would really like to be able to forestry mow the remaining 3 acres of buckthorn. Our focus in the coming year and subsequent years will be controlling the re-sprouting of the buckthorn plants using a combination of methods including herbicide, fire and mowing and getting native grasses established in those areas. This will provide excellent educational and volunteer opportunities. I think the park users and those doing work in the park will be excited about the progress being made.

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