Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Steven Feuerstein, Tree Killer

I don't just like trees. I am in awe of trees. Sometimes, I must confess, I do walk up to a tree to trace the texture of its bark with my fingers, or just lean up against the big trunk, feel its strength, and age, look up to follow the wonderful twisting branches up into the sky.

And now, October, of course, it is time to have one's breath taken away by the changing leaf colors, as in:

But I must be honest and also confess that I am a tree killer. I have cut down or pulled out by the roots easily over 1,000 trees and saplings in the past decade.

Heck, just in the past month, I have paid quit to the lives of hundreds of buckthorn trees. What, you want proof? OK, here it is:

Those piles of greenery inside the red boxes are buckthorn I have cleared from an area along a branch of the Chicago River. Here's proof they are, in fact, dead trees:

Am I being horrible and terrible and killing the world?

No way! I am working hard to save a thin chunk of forest that is turning into a sad and unhealthy monoculture. To quote the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, "Common buckthorn was first brought here from Europe in the mid-1800s as a popular hedging material. It escaped and became a nuisance plant, forming dense thickets in forests, yards, parks, and roadsides. It crowded out native plants and displaced the native shrubs and small trees in the mid-layer of the forest where many species of birds nested."

And you can definitely see that happening in this forest. Here's just one photo of many I took showing buckthorn (four thin, dark trunks - probably because it was cut back years ago) crowding around and eventually choking off another tree:

Yes, it is an ironic but unavoidable truth that due to the spread of invasive species (by the #1 invasive species in the world: humans), those of us who pay attention to non-Humanland and attempt to repair some of the damage our species has done often have to kill plants and animals in order to save native habitats.

I plan to create a Buckthorn Brigade here in Chicago, a team of concerned citizens who will join me in an effort to eradicate buckthorn (not that we will ever truly achieve that!). Let me know if you are interested!


Scott Wesley said...

I'm a sucker for watching Australian eucalyptus swaying in the breeze

Life said...

same is happening down here in albany