Towns team up to fight invasive species


GUILFORD -- Last year, Guilford Conservation Commission received $1,000 for "organizing the efficient management of invasive species."

There was no such special appropriation this year. In fact, with town officials seeking to keep their spending level in spite of rising costs, the commission had its budget cut in half to $500.

But that doesn’t mean the Conservation Commission has halted its battle against invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed. Members have turned to e-mail and social media announcements to save money, and they’re teaming up with Dummerston Conservation Commission to present a free public workshop on invasive management.

"There’s been a push lately to think more regionally among conservation commissions," said Linda Hecker, the Guilford commission’s chairwoman. "You understand that none of this stuff stops at the border of your town."

The two-part workshop is scheduled for May 17 in Dummerston. First, an indoor presentation happens from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Evening Star Grange on East-West Road in Dummerston Center.

Presenters include Windham County Forester Bill Guenther, who will give an overview of invasive plant issues in the region, and Antioch University graduate student Andrew Morrison, who will discuss his research on the issue.

The second part of the workshop is scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to noon on two Rice Farm Road properties in Dummerston. Participants will carpool to those private properties, where contractors Dan Healey and Chris Polatin "will discuss their work as invasive plant managers using a variety of control measures," organizers said.

Both parts of the workshop are free, and no advance registration is required.

Mary Ellen Copeland, chairwoman of Dummerston Conservation Commission, sees the joint workshop as a chance to "maximize our outreach" on invasives.

"We have not actually worked (with Guilford Conservation Commission) on a project like this before. This is the first time we have done that," Copeland said. "But we have been holding regional meetings ... for a number of years. And it was actually because of those meetings that we began to see the real value of working together on some projects."

She noted that Tropical Storm Irene’s severe flooding in August 2011 exacerbated this area’s existing invasive-plant problem.

"Since Irene, we have so many more invasives," Copeland said. "So much came down the rivers, and the big streams and the small streams."

One issue to be discussed during the workshop is the use of chemicals, with experts discussing "what’s involved in that, what do you do, and is that a good idea," Copeland said.

Hecker said Guilford Conservation Commission’s work last year showed that contractors can be a valuable resource to address a larger-scale problem with invasives.

"One of the things we learned is, if you have a serious invasive infestation, you probably can’t manage it all yourself," she said. "It’s a huge amount of work. So one way to go, if you can afford it, is to work with a contractor."

Hecker emphasized that workshop participants will be receiving instructions that are helpful whether or not they can or want to hire a contractor.

"Even though the title is ‘Working With Contractors,’ we’re also learning from contractors to work on our own," she said.

Mike Faher can be reached at or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.


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