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Trails Committee Wants To Start Herbicide Program In Preserved Grasslands

Fearing time is running out to stem the growth of more invasive species in two of the township’s grassland preserves, the Trails Advisory Committee on December 8 resolved to ask the Open Space Advisory Committee to recommend an herbicide spraying program.

The recommendation would go to the Township Council. Money to pay for the program, if the Council approves it, would come from the Open Space Trust Fund.

The preserves in question, the Negri Nepote and John Clyde Memorial, are inundated by invasive species that threaten the native grasses. A prescribed burn/mowing program has been initiated, and that will be continued.

But that’s not going to get rid of the invaisives fast enough, so two herbicide treatments for each – costing $50,000 a pop – have been recommended by the township’s open space consultant, Tara Kenyon.

The idea sparked a long discussion at the Open Space Committee’s October 19 meeting, the result of which was a suggestion by Township Manager Robert Vornlocker that the Committee research the options to see if there’s a less expensive one.

That discussion was continued at the Trails meeting by committee member Chuck Martin, who suggested a piolt program, through which small plots of land at Negri and John Clyde could be sprayed to see how well it worked.

Other parts of the preserves would not be sprayed, to act as controls.

“This is going to be a multiyear process anyway,” he said. “Why don’t we just study it on a miniaturized scale … and let that inform our decision on whether to go ahead with large scale?”

But committee member Mark Fortin wasn’t happy with that.

“Studying is just going to let this go and then we’ll be behind the 8-ball,” he said. “These herbicides are approved for use for just this purpose.”

Martin said that some residents are opposed to the type of herbicide that would be used in the fall spraying, namely, RoundUp, a broad-based glyphosate that has been linked to non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and has been banned in several U.S. cities. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has found that such herbicides are safe when used properly.

“I don’t see what the objections are,” Fortin said. “The township … is allowed to go and maintain the property. Why don’t we just implement the plan.”

Martin said that some residents oppose the use of the herbicide, to which Fortin asked if people are aware that township farmers use RoundUp.

“Many farmers throughout Franklin and the state use these approved chemicals to try and control their invasive species issues,” he said. “It’s not just the township contributing to these issues. Open Space should drive forward on implementing the plan.”

“I would support a resolution to Open Space saying please press forward … because we’re getting too far behind,” he said.

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