Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Another Buckthorn Assault

Story in the Star-Tribune this morning * about restoring the flora on some islands in Lake of the Isles. A photo accompanying the story showed a worker hauling away pieces of buckthorn to be burned. The story went on to say that the two islands, which were man-made as a result of dredging a swamp to make the lake, are being re-planted. Out go the "invasive" plants and in will come unspecified "desirable" plants.


First, there are no islands to 'restore' because they aren't real islands in the first place. They are sculpture.

And just what are these desirable plants? Mums and peonies? When this was a swamp, the native plants were probably some scrubby grasses, some random pin oaks, a few sumac bushes. Whatever. The point is that what was growing here 50 or 100 or 500 years ago is most likely not what the restorers will be planting come spring. Why not go all the way back to the ice age? Cover the whole business in a 50' deep sheet of ice and call it restoration. After all, the ice was here first!

Or...just leave the buckthorn. It's growing there quite nicely and (I contend) naturally right now, so by leaving it we are showing our reverence for the natural order, our reticence to intervene. (Which of course is pure poppycock because that's what humans do -- they alter the landscape.) And the buckthorn leaves and branches and berries could be harvested twice a year to be converted to biofuel. It's green!

Or...I'll bet buckthorn could be used for those plant sculptures -- what are they called? .... topiary! The islands could be filled with whimsical or historical references to Minneapolis. Prince in a cape. Killebrew and his home run swing. Hubert H. Humphrey stabbing the air with his finger. People riding bikes around the lake.

I'm sure the results of the park board's efforts will be lovely and pleasing. It's a pretty neighborhood on a nice lake in a decent city. Nothing wrong with that. But call it what it is: a construction project, not restoration or preservation or rehabilitation.

* The story has not yet appeared on the Star-Tribune web site, so there's no link from this post to the whole story. Sorry, not my fault.

1 comment:

Bleeet said...

Give 'em hell, Jim!

People say, "Well, it's an invasive species."

Aren't people an invasive species, too?