By Tim Douglass

Pope County Soil and Water Conservation District has secured another $50,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Legacy Grant to continue efforts to eradicate the invasive plant buckthorn from Barsness Park in Glenwood.

According to Holly Kovarik, manager of Pope County SWCD, the grant will be used to treat another 32.5 acres in the park.  This is the second grant Pope County SWCD has been able to secure for work at the park.  Jason Tank and his company Minnesota Habitat Management are currently completing the first phase of that work, which focused on the prairie area north of Park Road.  This second phase of work will focus on treating park land located on the southside of Park Road.  

Based on surveys, the city, along with a concerned group of private citizens called the Buckthorn Brigade and local resource professionals including the Pope County Ag Inspector, has determined that approximately 100 acres of the 250-acre park are infested with buckthorn. The buckthorn is preventing native grasses and plant communities from thriving. The buckthorn has also created access concerns because of its invasive characteristics. 

The area to be treated by Minnesota Habitat Management in phase II of the grant work includes sweeping views of Lake Minnewaska, a grand oak grove savanna, lowlands, and ravines which have been severely impacted by the buckthorn. 

“There are several large areas of buckthorn groves which have become “buckthorn deserts;” the buckthorn has created a canopy that prevents native plants from growing, Tank stated recently.  “The barren dirt no longer provides habitat for wildlife and has eliminated a natural water filtering system. The runoff does impact Lake Minnewaska,” he added.

The City of Glenwood Commissioners and the Glenwood Park Board supported this second round of funding and have committed $2,907 in in-kind match toward the project. The Buckthorn Brigade, a group of local volunteers, has contributed an additional $5,813 in in-kind match toward the project. “There is a strong commitment from the Pope SWCD, the city, a local volunteer group and the county Ag Inspector for this project, stated Holly Kovarik in her grant proposal.   “This community is committed to ongoing treatment of the buckthorn in the park as demonstrated by work already accomplished by this motivated group and the near completion of the Phase I DNR CPL grant,” Kovarik wrote her statement to the DNR on the grant proposal.