January 08, 2020
By, Liam Patterson
What is Buckthorn? Buckthorn is an invasive species located in many parts of New England. Here, in Thetford Vermont, buckthorn is very prominent on the school property and in the State Forest. One of the classes here at TA called, Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education, plans to do something about it. In 2018, all the students in the class created test plots near the yurt in the State Forest. That class used 6 different methods to treat the buckthorn. They counted the amount of living buckthorn before treatment, treated them with the different methods, and then left the plots alone for a year.
This year, our class continued this ongoing project. Each student went into each plot and counted the amount of live stocks of buckthorn after last year’s treatment. Once all of the stocks were counted, we went back and began to calculate our data in order to better understand the best treatment process. The best treatment methods seemed to be the Basal Bark treatment and the Cut Stump method. After the data was collected and written down, it was time to begin our treatment project.
A big thank you to Eharhard Frost, a local forester who supplied us with the proper chemicals to treat the buckthorn, and thanks to Scott Ellis, the class instructor who ensured our safety and supplied us with tools to cut down the plants and protect our skin from exposure to chemicals. I was part of the cut stump treatment team. This team went around applying Glyphosate to all of the cut buckthorn stumps. The other treatment method was the basal bark treatment, where Garlon 4 was applied all around the base of a live buckthorn stalk.
After all was said and done, I feel like my class made a difference by removing invasive buckthorn from the State Forest. It opened up space for us to learn and made the land better. With all of the invasive plants gone, the sunlight now pours into the land, like water seeping in through a newly opened hole. I can’t wait to see what other awesome projects the Outdoor Program has to offer.