Hats off to the Warren Conservation Commission for its efforts to manage knotweed on the town’s roads and parks.
The Warren Conservation Commission’s plan is designed to stop the spread of knotweed and destroy it where it is found. Using paid and volunteer labor, knotweed was cut from higher elevation town roads and from around town parks and then gathered at a composting site where tops were separated from bottoms to dry out. Knotweed roots are extremely hardy and will reroot and grow if left in contact with the ground. Roots were dug and removed from the sites as much as possible, but because of how knotweed spreads it’s impossible to remove all the roots.
The commissioners plan to revisit the cut sites and mow and dig out the shoots that grow back next month and then again in September. The effort is designed to prevent knotweed from reaching rivers and streams, but also to show that the invasive plant can be killed by consistently weakening the root.
This effort, combined with the work of the Waitsfield Conservation Commission with its trial program on the town-owned Austin parcel, provides a glimmer of hope when facing the 20-foot walls of knotweed that line portions of the banks of the Mad River. The Waitsfield Conservation Commission is trying a similar technique of cutting, mowing and drying knotweed and other invasives on a 1-acre portion of the Austin parcel along the Mad River. In addition to cutting and mowing, the commission is working to foster the regrowth of natural riparian trees in that area which, when mature, effectively block knotweed.
Both of these efforts highlight how important it is that we recognize that what happens at higher elevations affects those down lower and what happens at higher small streams affects those downstream. What happens at the south end of our watershed impacts the points farthest north.
This spring The Valley’s conservation commissions met jointly to talk about invasives and other conservation efforts. That meeting and the subsequent work they’ve done reinforces the fact that invasive plants, stormwater and wildlife do not recognize town boundaries. Three towns, one community. Three towns, one economy. Three towns, one watershed.