LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) — Community members volunteered for the “Grand Clean-Up” at Grandad Park to pickup trash, wash off graffiti and uproot buckthorn.
People found a mattress and a front door littered on Grandad Bluff. However, volunteers also found a plethora of the invasive species called buckthorn.
“This plant is buckthorn, and it’s an invasive species,” UW-La Crosse Biology Senior Lecturer Fay Ellis said. “It was brought over from Europe. The problem is is that it doesn’t belong here, and it very quickly spreads.”
“It really prevents all the plants that should be here in the forest and should be thriving and growing,” Ellis continued. “They don’t get a chance to be as great as they could be because buckthorn is stealing nutrients and water from them.”
Volunteers took extra steps to make sure the plant would not grow back once picked.
“It’s literally spending all morning just bending over pulling out buckthorn shaking the dirt off, getting dirt into your socks and shoes stacking it up,” Outdoor Recreation Alliance Vice President Jed Olson said. “But you know that the forest is going to be healthier when you’re done with the process.”
People of all ages were bending over and uprooting buckthorn one plant at a time.
“We’re going to try and get as much as we possibly can and then what we don’t get today we’re hoping to schedule some more volunteer days so that we can have people come back,” Ellis said.
There was not an exact measurement of how much buckthorn the community removed.
Olson said they are hoping not to make this an annual event, but in order for that to happen, people have to quit littering in the local attraction.