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Project News: Banning State Park

Banning State Park is a 6,000 plus acre state-owned park near Sandstone, Minnesota. A 10 mile stretch of the Kettle River meanders its way through the central part of the park and offers canoeing, kayaking, and fishing opportunities to park visitors. The park also features many miles of trails, attracting hikers, birdwatchers, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers, and its rocky outcroppings offer some of the most prime rock climbing opportunities in the state.

The park also has large tracts of woodlands that offer wilderness appeal to park visitors. One of the greatest threats to the park’s wilderness area is the spread of invasive plant species, and given that the park is mostly woodland, that threat is mainly European buckthorn. Many areas of the park have already been overrun by large infestations of buckthorn, however, there are several areas within the park where buckthorn has not completely taken over and controlling the spread of this invasive plant is easily manageable. Prairie Restorations, Inc. has been contracted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to manage buckthorn in one such area of the park. This tract of land is on the western boundary near where Highway 23 overpasses Interstate 35. The project will commence in the late winter of 2018 and will encompass nearly 100 acres on the western side of the Park.

Management techniques in this portion of the park will consist mainly of basal barking, a technique in which a small amount of herbicide is applied from a backpack sprayer in a band to the bottom six inches of sapling buckthorn. This technique works best on smaller diameter buckthorn (less than four inches in diameter) so larger adult buckthorn will be cut with a chainsaw and stump treated as needed. The basal barking technique allows land managers to navigate quickly, using minimal amounts of herbicide, through a large tract of land and save on labor resources because it is more efficient than mechanically cutting and then still having to treat stumps. Because of the light infestation, this project is the perfect candidate for the basal barking technique and Prairie Restorations, Inc. staff will be able to move through this large tract of land quickly and efficiently. When the project is completed, it will represent a perfect example of how preventative care can go a long ways to curb the spread of invasive species into areas where they are not already present in large populations.

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