Japanese invasive species to be managed by collaborative environmental group

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ARLINGTON >> Starting next month, invasive species near the Batten Kill Watershed will be managed by several environmental agencies.

The Batten Kill Watershed Alliance, Bennington County Conservation District, Bennington County Regional Commission, Calfee Woodland Management, Equinox Preservation Trust, Green Mountain National Forest and Vermont Land Trust, or BKW CISMA, will provide complimentary land management services to private landowners targeting Japanese knotweed and barberry, made possible by a $37,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The species is not harmful to humans or animals, however, it has a long term impact on the ecosystem that doesn't favor native animal species. Barberry flourishes fruit that birds eat, which holds no nutritious value for them, and Michael White from Calfee Woodland Management calls it junk food.

"It's exciting that invasive plants are getting some publicity and it's a big issue we've been dealing with for a few years and land managers have been," he said. "It's one step in a bigger process of public education."

Knotweed has similar characteristics as bamboo, grows very tall and has a hollow stem that nodes. It is commonly found by rivers and roadsides. It sprouts spade shaped leaves that grow white flowers late in the summer. Barberry is a dense, spiny shrub between two and eight feet tall that flowers red berries.

"Basically they can takeover a native habitat and crowd out the native species and reduce the diversity in the area," Batten Kill Watershed Comprehensive Invasive Species Management Association Coordinator, Juliana Quant said. "It can also change the situation for wildlife and make the area less suitable for wildlife, for example, providing less nutritious food."

Trimming will begin next month and then herbicide will be sprayed on it in September.

Starting last week, the Batten Kill Watershed CISMA Facebook page has been featuring different Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) species, something residents should also be on the lookout for. They include wild chervil, black swallowwort, autumn olive, giant hogweed, narrowleaf bittercress, border privet, wineberry, and Japanese gilcrest, according to Quant.

Knotweed was introduced in 1825 in Great Britain, arrived in North America in the late 1800s and resides in 30 of the 50 states, according to Eat The Weeds.

Those who wish to learn more about these invasive species or would like to be a part of the management process can contact Quant at Juliana@bccdvt.org.

—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.


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