Iron Conservation District targets terrestrial invasives


Staff Writer

CRYSTAL FALLS – Although aquatic invasive plants like Eurasian milfoil may be more well-known, there are also plenty of terrestrial invasive plants in the area that have a negative influence on native plants, wildlife, and humans.

The Iron Conservation District recently hosted a volunteer workday to remove terrestrial invasives from the Crystal Falls Boardwalk area near the Paint River.

Two species in particular were targeted: buckthorn and barberry.

“They get into the understory and displace native plants and trees,” explained Iron Conservation District Administrator Jen Ricker. “They also compete with native grasses that local wildlife would normally eat.”

As thorny plants, buckthorn and barberry can also become caught on animals and cause infections.

Ricker added that certain studies have shown that barberry causes deer tick populations to increase. Deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease to humans.

According to Ricker, both plants came to the area when people began using them as ornamental shrubs.

They spread mainly by animals, such as birds, that eat the plants’ berries and seeds.

Small plants can be removed by hand, but larger ones require the use of pruners or saws. Herbicides are another option.

A second volunteer workday to remove invasives is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 25 along the Apple Blossom Trail in Iron River.

Targeted species will be buckthorn, barberry, and honeysuckle.

Anyone interested in volunteering should meet at the Iron River RV Park trail entrance at 9 a.m. Please dress for the weather and bring gloves, pruners, and a sack lunch. The workday will run until 1 p.m.

“Even if it’s just a couple of hours, it could make a big difference,” said Ricker.

For more information on the workday or invasive species in general, contact Ricker at (906) 875-3765 or go to

Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is