Two weeks ago, the Warren Conservation Commission installed what were to be whimsical signs -- patterned after the well-known Burma Shave signs found throughout the country in an earlier era – up along Route 100 from Granville toward Warren. The signs were jingles that talked about the headwaters of the Mad River, the threat of invasives and the work to make the river knotweed free.
They were intended to remind people of the importance of managing invasives, knotweed in particular, to protect our rivers and eco-systems. Not everyone enjoyed the signs and they were taken down a few times. Two of the six signs were pulled down and dumped in the river, reinstalled and later taken down again.
Jito Coleman, chair of the Warren Conservation Commission, acknowledged this week that it wasn’t the message that rubbed people the wrong way, it was the medium. No one wants signs or billboards on our highways, he said.
But the bigger picture and the bigger message he wanted to cement in people’s minds is the idea that it is possible to make the Mad River knotweed free. It’s a big idea, he said, and one that if it could be cemented should result in a 20-year vision and road map for how we’re going to improve our environment.
Cementing that will require full community engagement and Coleman and his fellow knotweed warriors are all in on that. They’re excited to move beyond the work of managing knotweed – and demonstrating to people that it can be managed and it can be controlled and it can be eradicated, with vigilance, commitment and hard work.
They’ve been demonstrating that town by town, riparian property by riparian property and roadside by roadside for five years now. They’ve created a keen interest and a strong volunteer following.
It's the vision that Coleman et al want to work on next and they’re confident that when that visioning happens people will begin to understand that defeatism aside, communities can control knotweed. That’s why so many small community groups are doing this on their own.
Coleman is sure that when people understand that taking control of a little patch inadvertently spread by road equipment or taking on a small patch on one’s lawn from heavy equipment or birds (or however it got there) is possible they will gravitate towards and embrace a community vision for the watershed.
A sign of the time to come!
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