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The Buckthorn Menace

The Buckthorn Menace, a large-scale sculpture installation by artist Jim Proctor, pursues a novel alliance between art and environmental restoration by rendering the wood and roots of the invasive plant species buckthorn into forms resembling gargantuan dandelions in full seed. Constructed in September and October of 2007 on the site of two buckthorn infested areas in Northfield—one in “The Upper Arb” of Carleton's Cowling Arboretum and the other in “Norway Valley,” down the hill to the south of the new Science Center at St. Olaf College—this installation is part of a wider community education effort to raise public awareness about the environmental damage caused by buckthorn and other invasive plant species in Minnesota’s natural landscapes and wilderness areas.

This community service project provides a hands-on opportunity to learn about the environmental problems caused by invasive plant species in Minnesota, and to be a part of the only possible solution to those problems—constructive community action!

The installation will stand for a full year to allow viewing over the four seasons. It will be dismantled in October 2008, and the project sites will then be restored by the planting of indigenous trees and shrubs.

The Carleton installation site is located in the “Stork Forest” area of the Upper Arb: follow the paved path at the end of Second Street East (near Bell Field) across the bridge and uphill; the site is on the top of the hill as you round the bend in the direction of the Recreation Center (signs are posted).

This project is co-sponsored by Carleton College and St. Olaf College, in association with the Environmental Quality Commission of the City of Northfield.

The Buckthorn Menace was developed during a fellowship provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board, and first implemented with a grant from Forecast Public Artworks.