Written by Joe Meyer; Executive Director of Laudato Si’ Project
Saturday was woodland restoration day at Laudato Si’ Project’s work area at the Schoenstatt Retreat Center in Waukesha, WI. The morning had a group of 15 volunteers from Marquette High School and the afternoon had 20 volunteers from both Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and Marquette High School. The main objective was to remove the buckthorn, the invasive tree species, to allow regeneration of the oak and hickory trees in the woodland. This also allows more sunlight to hit the open woodland ground, benefiting native wildflower and grass species.
After 6 hours of work in the beautiful fall weather, a vast amount of the buckthorn had been removed and stacked from the woodland. This giant brush piles are havens for wildlife ranging from rodents to birds. The beginnings of a nature trail is being created through this beautiful 13 acre woodland as well. Buckthorn removal wasn’t the only project undertaken Saturday. Bluebird nest boxes were installed nearby and a 4000 square foot butterfly garden was seeded with an array of stunning native wildflowers and grasses.
In the afternoon, an ambitious group of volunteer freshman students and faculty of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School hiked to the site to learn more about invasive species and to help with the restoration. Joined by a few Marquette High School students, the remainder of a nearly 1/2 acre section of the woodland had been cleared of buckthorn.
Many hands truly made light work. All volunteers were treated to, not only the satisfaction that comes from stewardship, but also dozens of chocolate chip cookies baked by Schoenstatt Sister Monica. The before and after pictures seen below show the amount of work put into this project by our dedicated volunteers.
Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded. -Pope Francis, Laudato Si’