By Kara Herlihy
Knotweed is "on the move," according to members of the Warren Conservation Commission, who discussed plans for the removal of the invasive species with select board members at their May 26 meeting.
The knotweed "control project" will focus mainly on the upland growth of the highly destructive species, according to Conservation Commission member Susan Hemmeter, as opposed to the patches growing on both shores of the riparian area along the Mad River.
Hemmeter said the Conservation Commission is going after the knotweed because it is "very destructive and expensive to remove" and, if allowed to progress, runs the risk of taking over the prime agricultural soil.
IN PRIME AG
If knotweed takes hold in prime ag soil, it is impossible to remove, she said, because of the root structure and propensity to spread quickly.
Conservation Commission members identified upland areas of concern throughout Warren, where they said they'd like to focus their cutting and removal effort, hopefully with the help of local volunteers.
Hemmeter said there is an "infamous patch" of knotweed growing on West Hill Road, one on Fuller Hill Road, Lincoln Gap Road, some near the Kingsbury Farm, and a new patch on Plunkton Road.
Commission members asked for select board guidance and the aid of the town's road crew in facilitating a knotweed cutting and clean-up day, where volunteers would and bag the invasive species and it could be picked up along the roadsides similar to the structure of Green Up Day.
Select board member Andrew Cunningham said that the road crew is comprised of four individuals who "are already quite busy" with their primary responsibilities. Hemmeter said the commission is not looking to "add to their burdens," but use of the town trucks would be helpful in the clean-up effort.
POOR USE OF TIME
"I think that it is a poor use of their time, not that it isn't a worthy cause," Cunningham said.
Conservation commission member George Schenk discussed the serious nature of the knotweed invasion and assured that "knotweed is not as productive as the species it displaces. If we do nothing, we're going to live in a place that's different, and those are the things that really matter."
"We need to invest in management or deal with the consequences," Schenk added.
NOT PERMITTED IN LANDFILLS
Since knotweed is not permitted at the Moretown Landfill or the Burlington Landfill, the species has been trucked to New York in past years, costing the town time and money. Town officials discussed the possibility of burning the cuttings as an alternative.
Select board member Matt Groom spoke out in support of the clean-up initiative and echoed that the town's road crew is "already spread pretty thin." Groom said that an organized volunteer effort is essential to the control project's success.
Cunningham suggested coming up with a budget and presenting the initiative to residents on Town Meeting Day. He suggested that the conservation commission get the word out of the need for volunteers and return to the select board in a month or so after the first of the two cuttings is made (one cut in the spring, the other takes place in the fall).