Everyone can recall having a new toy that you can't wait to use after your birthday or Christmas. Even though it just so happened to be my birthday recently this was not a gift directly given to me, but we feel pretty excited to use our new toy around here.
The Grundy County Conservation Board recently purchased a Diamond brush cutter attachment for our John Deere skid loader and I have been like a kid in a candy store waiting to use it. Many of you have probably noticed the large outbreak of honeysuckle throughout our areas and areas across the state. Our new cutter is going to be our first line of defense in knocking back this invasive species that is suffocating our native vegetation. In the past we were using a chainsaw and physically cutting every plant. If you have ever cut honeysuckle you know how much fun it can be. This new cutter has been amazing.
So far, I have run this cutter at Copley Strohbehn Preserve and Wolf Creek Recreation Area. Warning - at first glance these cut areas may look like a bit of war zone; but by summer I believe you won't notice it. In three days of running I have removed what hand cutting would have taken us 3 or 4 weeks.
With this invasive vegetative beast we are dealing with, we know it will keep fighting back; so we know that coming back and cutting again will probably need to happen. Opening these wooded areas again will be great on many different levels. Our park users will once again be able to explore our areas. Also, these choked areas will once again be better utilized by our furry park users. We also hope by opening the understory back up we will see some native vegetation regeneration. We have strong faith that we can control our parks much easier with this cutter.
Traveling to Wolf Creek Recreation Area, try to imagine what the area just south of the bridge along the gravel road used to look like. It was a timber stand of mostly silver maple and boxelder completely chocked off by honeysuckle and small mulberries. Please only shed happy tears; the debris will be short lived. That area North of our maintenance area ( or for long time park users north of what was the old ball diamond area) this area is once again passable. To stand on the edge of the old ball diamond area and look northeast and see the bridge is a sight I have never seen. All in all this tool is going to be a great addition to our fight against honeysuckle.