Green Mountain National Forest Looks To Get Rid Of Invasives

07/23/10 5:50PM By Ross Sneyd
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AP Photo/Toby Talbot

(Host) Green Mountain National Forest biologists have been studying how to control and eradicate invasive plants.

And they've come up with a plan they hope they can start using as soon as this fall.

VPR's Ross Sneyd has more.

(Sneyd) The U.S. Forest Service has made it a priority all over the country to get rid of plants that wouldn't naturally be found in the national forests.

Jay Strand is an environmental coordinator with the Green Mountain National Forest. He says non-native plants are a huge problem.

(Strand) "Nationally, it's one of the four major threats to the natural diversity of our ecosystems."

(Sneyd) So the Green Mountain forest has developed a plan to do away with wild chervil, Japanese knotweed, and other plants that you wouldn't normally find in the Vermont woods.

Strand says the plan calls for pulling, mowing, burning and possibly treating the weeds with chemicals.

(Strand) "Keep in mind that all of these methods, if we have them in our bag of tricks, basically to use, that many infestations, types of target species that we're looking at can be effectively controlled with a combination of all these methods together."

(Sneyd) There's also likely to be a few places in the national forest where livestock could be used to simply eat the invasives. That will be tried on as an experiment.

Scientists have identified 27 different species of non-native plants in the Green Mountain National Forest.

The plants have been found in 850 different places covering 16-hundred-50 acres. A lot of those sites are along roads or trails or around parking areas.

But Strand says the Forest Service knows the problem is more widespread.

(Strand) "We're very certain that there's quite a bit more out there. In fact ... we expect at least a three-fold amount that's out there, if not more. We're trying to get a handle on it. And as we identify where they're at, we're trying to prioritize where the infestations are causing the biggest threat."

(Sneyd) The Forest Service will be working with private landowners on ways they can control invasive species near the forest.

And Strand says his staff will help local road crews find ways to change their mowing habits and other chores so routine maintenance doesn't spread the seeds of invasives.

(Strand) "This isn't just a problem on national forest lands. It's statewide. It doesn't know any boundaries - private, state, town, other federal lands. It doesn't stop at any boundary. It just keeps on marching through."

(Sneyd) The Forest Service has prepared a preliminary environmental assessment of how it wants to control the invasive species.

The public now has 30 days to comment. If the proposed policy is adopted, it could go into effect by this fall.

For VPR News, I'm Ross Sneyd.

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