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Oriental bittersweet battle

Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Conservation Corps Minnesota crews work south of Red Wing on Thursday tackling Oriental bittersweet, an invasive woody vine that is climbing into Minnesota communities and destroying forests and natural habitat. (Photos courtesy of Minnesota Department of Agriculture)

State crews worked along Highway 58 near Red Wing on Thursday removing Oriental bittersweet.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Conservation Corps Minnesota are teaming up with public and private landowners to tackle an unwanted woody vine.

The plant spirals into tree canopies in forests, parks and yards, experts said. The vines also can damage utility lines and create situations that are dangerous to people and property.

The Conservation Corps is now working to control the vines in residential neighborhoods in Red Wing and will continue until the vines leaf out and become difficult to handle. Crews will return to Red Wing and begin work in Winona in the fall.

It’s important to remove any Oriental bittersweet because the plants serve as a seed source for new infestations, the corps said. Birds and other wildlife eat the vine’s bright orange fruit containing the seed and spread it to new areas.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture seeks the public’s help to identify and control infestations. If residents suspect they have Oriental bittersweet, they can report infestations by calling 888-545-6684 or emailing Arrest.The.Pest@state.

mn.us.

The department also will survey for Oriental bittersweet in the spring and fall.

This project is funded by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources.

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