i On Niagara – Removing Invasive Species

Welcome to the new online magazine with a focus on Niagara. So much happens in the area that I thought to bring it to you. Hope you enjoy the first three posts.

Legacy 11

The local boy scout troops are participating in Legacy 11 which is a salute to the second century of Boy Scouting in service to community. It is the largest community service initiative ever sponsored locally in the Niagara Region for the Scouts. I knew nothing of this initiative until I happened upon the Scouts while on a walk along the gorge. The kids and their leader were more than happy to enlighten me, and I promised I would post about them. They were eager to pose and promote their good deeds. The Scout above is proudly giving the Legacy 11 salute!

The troops were camping in the DeVeaux Woods and were assigned to work on the Niagara Gorge Trails under supervision and direction of the Niagara State Parks Department employees.

The kids were organized into work crews for projects that took place along the Niagara Gorge Rim Trail between Devil’s Hole State Park and the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, as well as along sections of trails in the Niagara Gorge. They had a huge area to cover during this past Columbus weekend.

The projects included raking leaves, trimming branches, and improving the trail tread by widening trail sections to shore up footing.

In addition, the kids did a great service by removing invasive species along the gorge trails. They removed Buckthorn, Phragmites and Honeysuckle. Shown here, the kids are removing Buckthorn.

I did admit to the kids I was there taking photographs of it for a blog post on the invasive plant. But I found what they were doing so much more interesting to report.

The boy above is sawing off the base of the small tree. Only park employees could use power equipment, but the kids were allowed loppers and hand saws.

The female plant is quite attractive with the black berries. The Scout leaders were hard at work too removing the buckthorn. One leader, below, was a very knowledgeable and kind fellow who told me all about what the kids were doing this sunny, but cool day. But you can see from some of my photos, I was shooting Buckthorn on a rainy day too.

My photos were to be pretty images of the plant and explain why is was brought here in the first place.

Buckthorn is native to Eurasia and was introduced to the U.S. as an ornamental back in the 1800’s.

I just happened upon the troop while walking the trails with my camera, and like the paparazzi, snapped a photo of them cutting down my photo-op subjects. Honestly, I can find it all over the parks and it is impossible that the kids will get it all in the weekend they are here for their work session.

I am so glad they are removing it, but it is one tough cookie to eradicate.  It is known for long distance dispersal and a wide habitat tolerance, making it difficult to control.  Thickets will form if sunlight conditions are right. It easily becomes invasive and weeds out native plants. Why I was taking photos of it was that I was going to note how bad the plant is for the local plants.

The kids were very polite and considerate and the leaders very informative. The kids informed this lady that the berries of Buckthorn are poisonous and she should keep her Jack  Russell Terriers away from the plants within their reach. I was very pleased to see these kids working, responsible and learning from the adults. Boy scouting is a wonderful program, molding kids into mature, reliable, and dependable adults.

When the kids were done for the weekend, they left neatly placed piles of Buckthorn all along the trail. The Parks Department will come along and remove the debris.

But needless to say, the Buckthorn was so prevalent that much was missed. Buckthorn grows to a small-sized tree, making hundreds and hundreds of berries. I bet the Parks Service wishes they could have these little helpers year round. Here the sun sets on the project, but the kids did a wonderful and important job. We thank them for their efforts.

Please have a look at Green Apples. Some of the images for GGW- Into the Woods came from my time in the woods with the boy scouts. Pretty photos with an  i On Niagara.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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22 Responses to i On Niagara – Removing Invasive Species

  1. One says:

    I have enjoyed this post and very proud of these kids. I feel touched that not only are they knowledgeable, they took action and also took the effort to warn the lady about the poisonous plants. I hope they come by to read this post and see their own handsome faces.

  2. andrea says:

    Let’s hope many kids are encouraged by their parents to join this worthy introduction to adulthood, and that they be good citizens of the future. I further hope all of them will repeat this nature-workshops even in other places. And you did a very good job photographing and making little tribute to their deeds, i am sure they will be glad when they read this post. Lastly, i very much love that ending photo of the sunset.

  3. helensadornmentsblog says:

    This makes me want to go see the Falls as I’ve never seen them. I love seeing young adults finding joy in responsibility, what a great group of Scouts.

  4. Young people get such bad press most of the time, it was great to read this and get another point of view.

  5. Looks like these boys worked very hard and got a lot accomplished while learning some great life skills. Very impressive!

  6. Christina says:

    great job, well done the scouts! Christina

  7. Your comment on my scout post led me to check out yours. Thanks for a beautiful, informative, COLORFUL photo-essay. –John

  8. It’s great to see kids taking an interest in their surroundings and even better to see that Scouting is still an active, vibrant community – with all the internet and video games, I sometimes wonder if the kids get out these days at all.
    And I’m really enjoying your posts – growing up in Toronto, we visited Niagara so many times – it almost feels like home when you write about the area.

  9. Donna says:

    Wonderful post Donna. It is great to read about how our young people are learning about their local area and helping to keep it Eco-freindly.

  10. tina says:

    You lucked out running into the boy scouts. These kinds of posts about community happenings are always so helpful in the blogosphere. Those boys look like they were working hard too. Invasive species in parks are such a big problem.

  11. HolleyGarden says:

    What a wonderful service those Boy Scouts are doing. And they are learning so much – about the different types of trees, that the berries are poisonous, etc. I applaud them. And what a great coincidence to run into them at the same time you were going to post about this plant!

  12. Oh those thoughtless ornamental introductions: the worst one here is Fallopia japonica – is that a problem with you too?

    • Yes we have Japanese Knotweed also. It is similar to Buckthorn in that it survives a variety of soil conditions and also makes dense colonies. It is more likely to occur en mass along streams and rivers. It is located along the Niagara River also.

  13. b-a-g says:

    Great post Donna – I enjoy it when you go into news reporter mode. Niagra certainly deserves a magazine of its own.

  14. Greenearth says:

    Wonderful to see the young involved in such a worthwhile project. What a great learning experience for them about native plants and protecting the environment.

  15. Cathy says:

    How refreshing to see kids involved in projects like this!

  16. Buckthorn is a huge problem in Maine but (knock on wood) I have yet to find it on the island where I run the invasive plant removal program. It seems like if the Boy Scouts were just cutting it that it would sprout back up from the roots.

    • Buckthorn control is labor intensive. Strategies include one or more of the following:


      Buckthorn does not re-sprout from underground roots.

      Physical removal where plants are sparse is the most expedient and environmentally friendly method. Dig, pull or chop the plants out of the ground. Buckthorn pulls out most easily up to 3/8 inch caliper or diameter. Larger buckthorn can be removed with the aid of mechanical equipment like the Root Talon® or Weed Wrench®.

      Crown removal without chemical treatment eliminates fruit, however, stumps re-sprout. Re-sprouting stumps can be treated with contact herbicides or with fire for several growing seasons.

      Fire is most effective against seedlings and small saplings. Be aware of local and state fire codes and local permits and ordinances.


      Cut stumps can be chemically treated. Cut the buckthorn trunk as low to the ground as possible before treating. Products containing glyphosate (Round-Up) or triclopyr (Garlon) offer good control and can be purchased without a special license. Garlon is preferred over Tordon because of reduced potential nontarget effects (herbicide damage) to other dicots (broadleaf trees, shrubs and forbs). Both are effective on buckthorn. Both are relatively nontoxic to humans.”

      Basal bark treatment allows application of chemical to the lower bark of the tree without having to cut the top. Garlon 4 mixed with crop oil or diesel fuel is the preferred herbicide for basal bark treatment. This reliable information is from the Cooperative Extension. I would guess that the NYS Parks Department is well aware also.

  17. Karen says:

    Donna, one of the blogs I miss reading the most is yours, so what I do is read your posts like a good book that is impossible to put down. Love the light in the meadow in your previous posts, just glorious. The Boy Scouts looked to be actually enjoying themselves and yet serious about the work they were doing. Buckthorn is not a problem on our land, but it is a pest in other places. Another ornamental gone bad. I bet the park service will invite the scouts out to work anytime.

  18. Town Mouse says:

    Great post! It’s so encouraging to see kids do something like that – and it even looks as if they had a fairly good time!

  19. Beautiful photos! I really enjoy following your blog! Keep the inspiration coming!

  20. Marguerite says:

    Nice to see that Scout packs are alive and well and that they’re learning such great information. Most people don’t even understand what an invasive species is so this is great to see them taking part in this activity. Although the buckthorn will likely still be around next year at least it will be somewhat controlled with the constant cutting.

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