Bittersweet Eradication in Town Forest May Be Delayed

Bittersweet eradication in the Town Forest will be in the hands of Prescott Towle, who has been hired to use herbicides to eradicate the invasive plant that climbs trees and eventually kills them. But a question about wellhead protection and the time needed for a state permit may mean the eradication will not happen before next summer.

Conservation Commission Chairman Deb Lievens said at last week’s meeting that Towle has been out to the site and thought a private wellhead protection area was there. Since then, Comprehensive Planner John Vogl has determined that the wellhead protection area is along the border but not in the Town Forest.

“I don’t know how that affects what he wants to do,” Lievens said at the Tuesday, July 22 meeting. “I’m hopeful that without that complication, he will get the permit.”

Lievens said Towle will be removing some but not all of the poison ivy in the forest as well.

“It’s not like he’s going to be spraying poison ivy on the side of the road type of thing,” she said. “It will be removed or sprayed where it’s part of the whole project. A further decision can be made on that if there’s further trails going in.

“I’m not fond of spraying poison ivy,” she added. “I see it as a native plant that is a bird food. It’s annoying if you’re not on the trails but not annoying if you stay on the trails.”

Lievens said she had also asked Towle about a long-range analysis of what has to be done in the Town Forest, but as yet had not received an answer.

“There’s more bittersweet in the forest than he thought and it’s bad – it’s like a pet, once you’ve got it you’ve got to take care of it,” Lievens said.

She does not yet have an estimate of how long the project will last and how much it will cost.

Because of the time involved in the state’s permitting process, bittersweet may not be growing actively enough to make herbicide effective.

That may mean no eradication before next year.

Lievens said Towle is looking at managing the Town Forest over the long haul.

“Once he sees the map and understands what’s there, he’ll get a better feel for what will happen in Concord,” Lievens said. “Now he knows that there is no wellhead protection area.”

Commissioner Paul Nickerson asked if it was better to spray early in the season and Lievens responded that it was better later, but not when the plants were dead.

“You want it when it’s still fully leafed out and well attached to the plant,” Lievens said.

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