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County Board members educated about dangers of buckthorn

The Wadena County Board heard all about buckthorn and its noxious qualities Tuesday morning in its first November session.

Darren Newville and Anne Oldakowski were on hand to give the board a look at a current East Otter Tail and Wadena Soil and Water Conservation District forestry project.

Newville, who is the district manager and Oldakowski, who serves as assistant manager as well as Forestry and Water Resources technician, supplied information regarding the well-established invasive plant to Wadena's commissioners.

Buckthorn, which was introduced into the United States in the 19th Century as a plant which produced excellent hedges, is widespread in the fields and woods of many Minnesota counties. Control is difficult and expensive.

Board members encouraged the education of county employees in recognizing the invasive tree and treatment of the sites where it is found. Buckthorn cannot be eradicated, but it can be controlled.

John Finnegan and Bev Finnegan, residents of Leaf River Township 10 miles north of Wadena, have been trying to control buckthorn on their property after Oldakowski spoke to them about the invasive plant.

"About 10 years ago I started on it. The first year it was a couple weeks of work," John Finnegan said. "I spent two days this year doing nothing but the removal of buckthorn." Finnegan suggested disclosure of buckthorn problems when a person sells their property.

Newville did not have an answer why buckthorn is not higher on the radar as an invasive.

Sheldon Monson asked Newville if the county board had an authority to make buckthorn a local issue.

"Yes, if you guys wanted to make this a local county control issue you could do that," Newville said. "There is a process for doing that."

Finnegan felt a big source of buckthorn infestation comes from government-managed wildlife areas. Newville said the WCD has contacted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources when buckthorn is found on one of their wildlife management areas.

"The problem is a lot of people just don't realize they are responsible for controlling it," Newville said.

In action on other regular agenda items the board:

• Passed a motion for the planting of trees along the boulevard near the County Courthouse Annex.

• Approved a recommendation for amendments to the zoning ordinance supporting the new buffer strip law.

• Revoked a conditional use permit granted in 2012 on a 12-child daycare which transferred ownership in 2016.

• Approved an amount not to exceed $1,500 for the graveling and shaping of county parks and the brushing of adjacent property.

• Approved a Teamsters Union essential unit jailer-dispatcher contract.

• Set a pre-public hearing for 9:30 a.m. at their Dec. 12 board meeting.