Effort to remove invasives at Arlington Rec Park continues

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ARLINGTON — An association focused on combating invasive species in the northern portion of Bennington County will lead a volunteer service opportunity at the Arlington Recreation Park on Saturday, Oct. 26, from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

Ryan Kincaid, a Vermont ECO AmeriCorps member serving as habitat steward and coordinator with the Cooperative Invasive Species Management Association for the Batten Kill Watershed, a consortium of public and private entities, including the Batten Kill Watershed Alliance and the Bennington County Conservation District, said volunteers will work to remove Asiatic bittersweet, which grows as a vine and tends to strangle trees, near the property's parking lot.

Volunteers may also attempt to remove other plants, including common buckthorn, Japanese barberry, European spindle tree and bush honeysuckle, Kincaid said.

Invasive species are "plants, animals, and other organisms that are introduced to a non-native ecosystem and also cause harm to the environment, economy, or human health," according to vtinvasives.org, a website developed by the University of Vermont Extension, several state agencies and the nonprofit Nature Conservancy's Vermont chapter. These species may out-compete native species for resources, prey on native species and cause or carry disease, among other possible threats. Volunteers should wear long pants and sleeves, said Kincaid, who will demonstrate how to remove the plants at the event's outset. The association will provide some tools and gloves. Kincaid said volunteers may be able to make fall wreaths from the bittersweet vines, once seeds have been removed.

'There would be way more'

The association assists public and private landowners throughout the region with invasive species-related issues. The Arlington Rec Park project started in 2017, with the removal of barberry, Shelly Stiles, the recently retired district manager of the Bennington County Conservation District, told the Arlington Select Board earlier this month.

In 2018, volunteers removed bittersweet and other invasive species at the site, Stiles said. That effort has continued this year, and the group planted 150 native trees in the park in June.

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Select Board Chair Keith Squires said that he still sees more invasive plants "than I'd like to see" at the site but that they've gone down overall.

"If you hadn't done anything, there would be way more," board member and state Rep. Cynthia Browning said.

Stiles suggested the town consider using Rodeo, an herbicide that the board in July authorized its highway crew to use around guardrails, which she said would not harm aquatic organisms and could be effective for curbing invasive species that cannot be pulled without disturbing riverbank areas.

The board took no action on that recommendation at the meeting but, with the exception of Browning, signaled an openness to it.

"My feeling is, with some of these invasives, without a chemical, you're going to go backwards," board member Timothy Williams said.

Anyone interested in learning more about the association and its offerings may contact Ryan Kincaid at coordinator.cisma.bkw@gmail.com or 802-442-2275. The group also maintains a Facebook page at CISMA-Batten Kill Watershed.

Contact Luke Nathan at lnathan@benningtonbanner.com.


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