Believe it or not, the Arb does not run itself. There is in fact an Arboretum Office, and many hard-working individuals dedicated to its maintenance. The miles of wooded trails and gorgeous prairies that so many Carleton students enjoy are the result of hours of careful planning and strategic maintenance, and a perpetual battle against invasive species.
This coming December, change is the name of the game. The Arboretum has received a $65,000 grant to restore native vegetation in the Arb to improve biodiversity of native plants. This is part of an initiative of the Minnesota DNR: the Woody Biomass Harvest for Habitat Restoration. Many undesirable trees will be cut down, but will be replaced by native tree species (primarily oaks) and native grasses. Buckthorn, honeysuckle, and non-oaks will be targeted (like Boxelder, and Green Ash), as well as Jack Pines, White Pines and Red Pines. The pines are native to the state of Minnesota, but not to this area. They were artificially introduced and then poorly maintained, and most are not very healthy currently. Removal of invasive species will allow for a re-introduction of desirable native species.
The grant area includes 38 acres across four sites. Three of these are in the lower Arb, and will be converted to oak savanna and upland forest, and the fourth is in the upper Arb, and will ultimately be restored to prairie and oak savanna. The project will begin in December once the ground is frozen, and a private contractor (paid for by the DNR grant) will remove the unwanted trees. Although the Arb may look bedraggled and empty in the interim, this project will further the restoration process and in a few years when native species have fully taken root, the Arb will be more beautiful than ever.
-Anna Persmark ’15, Cole Student Naturalist