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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

    Arb Notes

    <u take a stroll in the lower Arb, you may notice the distinctive smell of freshly cut pine lingering in the air or the presence of a few ungainly stumps where stately Red and White Pines once stood.  These missing trees are part of a plan to remove an entire stand of pine trees located at the edge of the prairie.  If the mild winter weather persists, all of the pines may be gone before spring.  But why cut down healthy, mature trees?

    “The pines are inappropriate for the habitat,” explained Arboretum Manager Matthew Elbert. 

    The trees in question fall within an oak savannah restoration site, and although Red and White Pines are native to Minnesota, neither are native to this part of the state.  Since the goal of restoration is to return the land to pre-settlement habitat types, these pines are out of place.

    Additionally, beneath the stand of pines a thicket of young Buckthorn is growing.  Over time, these shrubs would form an impenetrable undergrowth, crowding out native species of grass, trees and other vegetation that characterize an oak savannah.  The most effective method to suppress this non-native, invasive species is controlled burning.

    But according to Elbert, because pine trees catch fire easily, “They are a huge hazard in the middle of our burn units.” 

    After the trees are removed, it will be possible to perform controlled burns safely and restore the area to oak savannah.

    What happens to the trees once they are cut down?  Occasionally, large sections of straight pine lumber are given to the art department for student woodworking projects.  However, most of the woody debris is picked up by a St. Paul-based energy company that uses wood waste to fuel a combined heat and power plant. 

    — Jared Beck

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