'I can't say that it's fun': Man volunteers to pull buckthorn at Lake Harriet

Jim Nicholas is volunteering his time pulling buckthorn from the area around Lake Harriet.

On the shores of Lake Harriet, a battle is brewing.

Over the past few months, Jim Nicholas has been waging war on a weed. Armed with his signature floppy hat, yellow gloves and red suspenders, Nicholas volunteers his time to pull, cut and dig out the thickets of buckthorn found throughout the parkway.

"I can’t say that it’s fun. It’s just satisfying to make a difference," he said.

Nicholas started noticing the invasive species becoming a thorn in Mother Nature’s side when he commuted to and from work via bike. 

"It shades out the natural habitat… once the sunlight is cut off, the native plants don't stand a chance," he explained.

So, when Nicholas retired from his St. Paul desk job after 27 years, he decided to become a buckthorn buster.

"I can set my own schedule. I'm outside, and once in a while, I get to see an eagle."

Nicholas says people passing by often stop and ask what he is doing, but a few have actually called the cops on him.

"They see me pulling up trees, and they don't think I belong there."

But, Nicholas has no plans to abandon his post any time soon.

"I'll go as long as my back allows me to, I think."