The Citizen Science project is underway and runs through summer 2022. Participants are conducting an ecological experiment to help advance our collective understanding of how we can use native plants to control buckthorn in our forests. While we are currently at capacity, you can fill out this contact form to stay informed of project activities and potential volunteer expansion in the future.
Prior to spring 2020
Between summer 2019 and spring 2020, participants identify an area ~ 30 x 40 ft where they want to set-up their project site. The site needs to meet the following three conditions:
- Have buckthorn present or recently present in the case of new removals.
- Be set-up within a forest or woodland area with at least 50% non-buckthorn tree cover (e.g. oaks, maples, etc.).
- Be located on property within Minnesota.
Sites will be reviewed by the Cover It Up research team to ensure site conditions are met.
Once the area for the project is identified and confirmed, participants remove all buckthorn stems over 1 ft tall. Participants can use any removal method that best suits their needs. The MN DNR website provides information on buckthorn removal methods. Participants who want to use herbicide can do so, but we ask that no herbicide be applied on the 30 x 40 ft project site once the squares have been planted in spring 2020. Follow-up cutting of buckthorn during the experiment can be done by simply cutting at ground level. It's likely that herbicide treatments during the initial removal phase will reduce the need for these cutting activities.
Set-up & Seed Mix
Within the 30x40 ft removal area, participants set up six 5x5 ft experimental squares. Three of the squares will be planted with a native seed mix containing a variety of grasses, sedges, wildflowers, shrubs and trees. The remaining three squares will be the experiment’s control squares and will not be seeded. The seed mix includes species that 1) may provide dense shade in situations ranging from fairly open woodlands through to closed forests, 2) have approximately state-wide ranges, and 3) are available locally through Minnesota seed suppliers. Follow this link for a list of species included in the seed mix.
Plant test buckthorn
At each square, participants also plant test buckthorn seeds provided by the project. Buckthorn test seeds are placed in a circle around a small flag. Using these test buckthorn seedlings, we can track the germination and growth of buckthorn during the experiment. At the end of the project, participants will remove the planted test buckthorn seedlings.
All materials needed for the experiment will be provided at no cost to participants by the University of Minnesota.
Cut non-test buckthorn
During the summer months of June, July, and August, participants cut all buckthorn that was not directly planted for experimental purposes. (In other words, cut non-test buckthorn.) For details, see: https://coveritup.umn.edu/summer20.
Observe & report
Participants measure the survival and growth of test buckthorn; take pictures of the squares and of the tree canopy; and estimate areas covered by different types of plants. An online tutorial will be announced via email and available on this page: https://coveritup.umn.edu/end-of-season.
Autumn 2022 - End of project
Once final observations have been collected, participants need to remove and destroy the seeded test buckthorn from their experimental squares.