This year members of the Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston Conservation Commissions are honoring volunteers whose dedication, enthusiasm, and dogged willingness to get after the knotweed infestations in The Valley deserve to be called the 2023 Knotweed All-Stars.
“The willingness of all our volunteers, who continue to make significant progress removing knotweed from our Valley, deserve recognition and appreciation for their work. This year we have selected a couple of people from each Valley town who are truly All-Stars,” said Warren Conservation Commission chair Jito Coleman.
Becky Kuhlman has for over the last three years worked to clear knotweed from over 800 feet of the Mad River’s banks on her property in Warren. With a little encouragement and training from the Warren knotweed interns and her dedicated tenacious efforts, she has restored this river bank. Her work toward clearing knotweed from the Warren town center, coupled with the efforts of her neighbors over many years, has made significant difference to the reach of the river just south of the covered bridge in Warren.
Nancy Bryant for five years has been clearing a small infestation of knotweed on Prickly Mountain Road on her daily walk. The infestation was a result of knotweed being planted when a new culvert was installed about 10 years ago.
“It took a while given how deep the knotweed was planted, but due to her diligence, it did not show itself this year. I’m sure she will be watching to make sure it doesn’t return,” Coleman said.
While not a volunteer, Ashley Cray, the UVM invasive species project coordinator, made enormous contributions to The Valley’s knotweed initiative, Coleman and his peers noted. She supervised seven UVM interns, coordinated with the three conservation commissions, brought positive energy to the effort, drew on the special interests of the interns, and helped build a team that included community volunteers and the UVM interns.
“She was clearly instrumental in the progress made in The Valley on invasive species management and habitat restoration,” he added.
Dylan Frazer, in addition to being a regular at Waitsfield’s “Knot Thursdays,” took on sole responsibility for managing the three large knotweed infestations along North Road. In the past two years he’s worked on these sites on 22 occasions, devoting over 54 hours to beating back knotweed and preventing this invasive species from taking over the North Road corridor. With all the water flowing through this area, and recognizing that water is a primary means for the spread of knotweed, Frazer is playing a very important role in keeping the upper elevations in The Valley as free as possible of knotweed, Coleman noted.
Don Wenner, even though he’s a Moretown resident, showed up with his shovel at almost every “Knot Thursday” in Waitsfield. “Wenner was a great match and partner for the strong UVM interns who liked to devote themselves to digging out knotweed root balls. Thanks in large part to his diligence and shovel skills, all the root balls in a very large knotweed infestation at the Virginia Farley Memorial Park, are now safely stacked above ground,” Coleman reported. This site was the location of a native tree and shrub planting earlier in the month, a positive step in restoring healthier riparian habitat.
David Sette-Ducati and Amy Kennedy have been digging and smothering knotweed along German Flats at their property for the last few years. These two knotweed powerhouses stopped by the Green Valley Rally on Green Up Day and signed up to join the Fayston effort to manage knotweed. Sette-Ducati and Kennedy were dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers helping from the very first Community Workday with drying rack transport and knotweed infestation cutting throughout town.
“Lucy Badger, a student at Harwood, has been our most enthusiastic volunteer throughout the summer 2023 season. We learned of Lucy’s interest through the school and encouraged her to join Fayston’s pilot project Community Knotweed Workdays. Lucy and Leslie Badger worked tirelessly alongside our UVM interns cutting knotweed from the banks surrounding the Chase Brook culvert at Barton Road to North Fayston, and everything in between,” Coleman pointed out.
“Many thanks to all of the community volunteers working on their own and town properties to help manage knotweed and keep it from spreading further. Together we’ve opened up views of our beautiful Mad River and its tributaries, made it possible to reestablish native vegetation in riparian buffers, and built community within The Valley and beyond in the fight against invasives. Thank you!” he added.