Conservation Commission Seeks $8,000 to Combat Bittersweet

The Conservation Commission agreed to include in its budget the funding to address the issue of invasive plant species at the Town Forest.

While discussing the issue of Bittersweet at the Town Forest with Michael Morrison, an entomologist and president of Swamp Inc., the Commission explained that bringing the growth under control is part of an initiative to make the 12 acre property more usable.

Because the Bittersweet growth is so substantial, it will take more than the effort of volunteers to remedy.

The commission agreed to request $8,000 be included in its budget for a Bittersweet removal program that could be added to the Town’s pest management plan.

While considering whe-ther to add $4,000 or more, Commissioner Mike Speltz noted, “It’s our job to tell them what’s needed if they want to keep the invasive species there under control.”

Morrison said Bittersweet can sometimes be managed with cutting only – whereas some ca-ses warrant cutting and the application of herbicide.

Another effective me-thod of addressing a town-wide invasive plant issue is to require new businesses coming into town to treat invasive growth on their property as a condition of approval by the Planning Board, Morrison told the Commission.

Chairman Deborah Lie-vens said the Bittersweet in the Town Forest is well established and will need extensive treatment.

“The stems are really thick and the Bittersweet is growing up 40-foot trees. Because it’s so invaded, we haven’t done a lot of harvesting there,” Speltz said. “We are really under some pressure to show some progress.”

Speltz said he thinks the commission’s discussion with Morrison about implementing a program at the Town Forest and decision to add funding to the budget for that purpose will serve as progress toward the goal of making the Town Forest more usable.

In other business at its Tuesday, Oct. 28 meeting:

• The Commission voted 4-1 to begin including on its agenda all petitions for baiting on conservation areas and the lot number of the parcel on which the activity will occur, in response to complaints from neighbors of conservation areas that they were not made aware by hunters that they would be baiting near their homes.

Lievens said the Commission is only responsible for approving or denying a request to bait and hunt on conservation properties, but Speltz said the additional step will ensure all neighbors are made aware of the activity.

Commissioner Paul Nickerson voted against the additional requirement, saying, “I don’t believe we need to do this.”

• The Commission voted 5-0 to purchase signs reminding residents to carry their trash out of conservation areas.

The Commission allocated up to $200 to purchase 12 “Carry In – Carry Out” signs, which are to be installed at entrances to the Musquash. The Commission will not be posting the signs at Kendall Pond because there are trash barrels near the kiosk at the conservation area that are being used to collect trash. The Commission plans to look further into who is collecting and disposing of trash in the bins on the property.

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