Students pull buckthorn at Assabet National Wildlife Refuge
At Assabet National Wildlife Refuge in Sudbury Mass., students from three nearby high schools came together to remove invasive species. Sponsored by the Friends of Assabet NWR, Assabet Pulling Together is a program that’s working to get this habitat, part of the Eastern Massachusetts Refuge Complex, back to its natural state.
Students from Norfolk County Agricultural High School pulled enough invasive buckthorn to fill two pickup trucks, along with some help from community volunteers. Buckthorn arrived in America in the mid-1800s from Europe, and soon out-competed many native plants for nutrients and light. It grows especially well in wetlands, like at Assabet NWR. Invasive species often face little or no predators where they show up, and take resources from native species, destroying a place’s ecological diversity.
As part of the National Public Lands Day effort, this is the latest in the extensive improvements to the site—originally, the Army had ammunition bunkers there during the Second World War, as it was close enough to ship supplies to the Boston Navy Yard, but far enough from the coast to be shelled. After the war, it was used as a training ground and disposal area for the Natick Army Labs, consequently deemed an EPA Superfund site and subject to a decades-long cleanup. So you could say the place has come a long way. When I visited this past weekend, the foliage was just starting to peak, and there were plenty of people enjoying the recently-restored refuge.