Cold Spring Park Buckthorn Demonstration Project

Glossy buckthorn photo by Bruce Wenning

The Red Maple Swamp that makes up much of Cold Spring Park is threatened by an expanding understory of invasive exotic glossy buckthorn, which shades the understory so much that the red maples and oaks in this forested area cannot successfully reseed themselves. The forest is doomed if nothing is done. In 2016 Bruce Wenning gave a library program on this park and this phenomenon, and wrote a summary (also found on this web page) of the problem and what can be done. This forest of huge red maples is thought to be the oldest forest in Newton and is a vital habitat that we should not allow to be extinguished due to lack of understanding of the problem or resources to address it. Newton Conservators will collaborate with the city on this project, which will involve:

1) Establishment of several demonstration areas (each about 100′ x 100′) within the inland forest, in checkerboard fashion (shown on this map). In one area, closest to the trail, we will work to remove buckthorn from a heavily infested area, as well as provide public education. In another area, farther towards the center, we will remove buckthorn from a lightly infested area to keep it clear for the clethra and other native species currently there. The volunteers’ work will be guided by Bruce Wenning.

2) Removal methods will include hand pulling by volunteers (this works well for small buckthorn), weed wrenching (we have access to four such devices, which work well for medium size shrubs), cutting and use of “buckthorn baggies,” and,  where necessary, stem cutting followed by painting of glyphosate.  We propose use of Rodeo given the wetland proximity, will request approval from the Newton Integrated Pest Management Committee, and will arrange for supervised application by a licensed applicator.

3) The demonstration areas will also include signage and public education, as Bruce Wenning’s proposal notes, that most people and users of the park have no idea what the plants are around them and do not realize there is a problem – because it is happening slowly. It is not a sudden insect invasion or a quick felling of trees.  There is a possibility, as mentioned in Bruce’s document, that a kiosk at a park entrance could provide more information – this will be considered for future in coordination with other plans and improvements for the park.  In the meantime, we will use signage near the demonstration area and QR codes to start the public education campaign.