Members of the Waitsfield Conservation Commission have begun a new effort to manage knotweed in Waitsfield and recently cut down and burned last year’s woody stalks at the Lareau Swim Hole and on Bridge Street in The Village.
The conservation commission and town select board are making a concerted effort to eradicate knotweed along many roadways in town and along selected areas along the Mad River. This year at Town Meeting, voters approved a budget that included $10,000 for a special reserve fund dedicated to invasive species.
In addition to eradicating knotweed, the commissioners want to demonstrate that it is possible to successfully tackle knotweed and teach people various techniques for managing the invasive species, explained conservation commission chair Curt Lindberg.
The conservation commission, with help from Friends of the Mad River and the Mad River Path, conducted a pilot project on the town-owed Austin parcel, a 5-acre riparian parcel of land where invasives were extensively cut and native forest species were replanted.
Now the conservation commission is moving ahead with plans to work to eradicate knotweed in many areas of the town and is following a model that was successfully used by the Warren Conservation Commission to eradicate knotweed. The Warren model is based on repeated cutting and weakening the plants and public education.
In Waitsfield the most recent work focused on cutting knotweed in those two sites, making it easier for the commissioners and volunteers to deploy a variety of techniques including pulling the stalks every three weeks from May through September, digging out the roots and smothering with cardboard/black plastic or mulch. At the Lareau Swim Hole knotweed stalks were stacked to dry on pallets. The plant will not propagate if the roots are off the ground.
Lindberg said that people will see knotweed marker signs throughout the town, indicating where work is to take place. Over 50 infestations are being targeted for concentrated attention, he said.