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Minnesota Legislature

Controlling the spread of buckthorn

Published (2/20/2009)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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Now that it’s made itself at home in Minnesota, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of the noxious weed called buckthorn. It invades everywhere it takes hold — out-competes native plants for light and moisture, threatens future forests and can harbor a pest harmful to soybean crops, according the Department of Natural Resources’ Web site.

North Oaks has had success in controlling other noxious weeds and diseases that strike trees. Now some residents want to try their hand at controlling the spread of buckthorn.

Rep. Paul Gardner (DFL-Shoreview) sponsors HF418 that would allow a municipality, by ordinance, to control buckthorn on all public and private property within its geographical boundaries. The bill has no Senate companion.

Joan Brainerd is a 30-year resident of the northern Twin Cities suburb, which is unique not only for its wooded acreage, but also because all land in the city is privately owned. She told the House Agriculture, Rural Economies and Veterans Affairs Committee Feb. 16 that buckthorn is spread by birds dropping seed berries. The bill would give jurisdictions, such as North Oaks, the ability to adopt an ordinance to place their own control measures on buckthorn.

Considered a “restricted noxious weed” by the Department of Agriculture, the government cannot require landowners to eradicate buckthorn. However, control measures are taken by prohibiting the import, sale and transportation of the weed.

Approved by the committee, it now moves to the House State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections Committee.

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