by Michael J. Marino
A group of local volunteers called the “Burning Buckthorns” spent Saturday, Feb. 4 cleaning up Two Moon Park by removing and burning nuisance plant species along the Yellowstone River.
Held annually, the project began two years ago with just six volunteers, according to Crew Foreman, Megan Hoyer, of Yellowstone County Weed District. This year, the clean-up day drew a little over 60 people to help the cause, which is a collaborative effort between the weed district and the Yellowstone River Parks Association (YRPA) to permanently remove invasive plants – specifically, Russian olive trees and Buckthorn berry trees.
YRPA staff member, Carolyn Sevier, said these two trees are quite pesky and “cause a lot of damage to the habitat,” mainly because they “choke out” the aother plants in the area with their unnecessarily long roots. This in turn renders native plants, like cottonwood trees, unable to grow. In addition, Sevier said birds like to eat the berries produced by Buckthorns, but the berries end up “giving them digestive problems.”