Arb Notes for Nov 9th - The Plan Behind the Trees

November 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm
By Anna Persmark

Nancy Braker and Matt Elbert 2012 


            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


  • November 12 2012 at 5:57 pm

    I have enjoyed these acres for years and really hate that all the pines are being deforested.  The sense of serenity of being surrounded by a diverse forest is being destroyed with all these projects.  I can only imagine how empty it's going to look when the lower arb project is underway.  I truly don't agree that the Arb will be more beautiful than ever.  You're cutting down years of old growth trees.  Such a "well maintained" space surely loses it's wilderness feeling.  Since the nearest large place to walk is Nerstrand, I feel this is a great loss to our local community.

  • November 12 2012 at 7:21 pm
    Nancy Braker

    Thanks so much for your comments. Not all of the pines in the Arboretum are going to be removed – we agree that portions of the pine plantations provide a nice “north woods” feel.  While we will provide more detail shortly, be assured that the majority of the trees that are being removed are those that are stunted from lack of thinning in the past, are damaged from wind or insect attack,  or are jack pines and are at the end of their lives.  This is not to say that the cleared areas will not look “bare”, but we hope you will take the long view, as we do, and realize that the future forests will be a great addition.  Nancy Braker, Arboretum Director.

  • December 19 2012 at 3:54 pm

    The pine forested area in the lower arb is one of my favorite places in Northfield.  There are very few places with pines in this part of the state and I hate to see the trees cut from that area.  I would agree with thinning weak or diseased trees but keep the healthy.  We have plenty of grassland.

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