By Natalie Bingham, UVM knotweed intern for Warren
(Editor’s Note: This is the second part of Bingham’s midsummer report on knotweed eradication efforts in The Valley. The first part, published last week covered successes in Warren.)
The interns joined Waitsfield Conservation Commissioners Curt Lindburg, Bob Cook and 20 volunteers to tackle knotweed at multiple sites. The group has put in 550 hours towards knotweed management this season. Waitsfield’s knotweed management sites are Bridge Street, Brook Road, Center Fayston Road, East Warren Road, Lareau swim hole, North Road, Old County Road, Palmer Hill Road, Reed Road, Route 100 sites, Sherman Road, Ski Valley Road, the Tardy parcel, Tremblay Road and the West Greenway. Some of the sites are “Adopt Some Knot” sites which volunteers have taken responsibility for managing.
The Waitsfield Conservation Commission has conducted community outreach by holding educational sessions at Lareau, holding a Zoom educational session, and focusing efforts on reaching out to young people. In late June, the interns were joined by a small group from Neck of the Woods, a local child care center, who joined as part of their community-service-based learning. The kids (fourth and fifth graders) helped clear a site by the West Greenway. The entire student body and teachers from the Mysa School got their hands in the weeds while participating in a knotweed workshop on the river. Another older group of students were part of the Azerbaijani Youth Environmental Program (AYEP) who came to The Valley to experience living in an American home. While visiting the Northeast, they learned about knotweed as part of their sustainability, service-learning education. Their visit was organized by Waitsfield-based PH-International. They helped at the Lareau swim hole.
This year, weekly community days were hosted in Warren and Waitsfield. These evenings gave community members the chance to learn and participate in knotweed management efforts. Warren’s community day is Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. where efforts have been concentrated on Quayl Bend and Riverside Park. At both sites work has focused on mowing and drying and clearing the riverbanks.
Waitsfield’s community day, dubbed “Knot Thursday,” is Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. Lareau swim hole and Bridge Street have been the focus of this work. More recently, the team has been taking on the Tardy property.
One of the biggest impacts of this summer’s work has been increasing the number of people who take interest in the knotweed project. These efforts have successfully communicated the urgency of the knotweed problem in the Mad River Valley. There has been overwhelming support and encouragement from the community which has enabled the interns to take on more sites. The regular attention to the sites has also shown to have weakened the strength of the knotweed. At many sites interns have found the knotweed is easier to pull up and comes back in much smaller, weaker shoots. The time and effort it takes to manage each site has been quickly declining, which will allow them more time to focus on new sites.