PRESS RELEASE: Austin Invasive Plant Control & Floodplain Forest Program Community Stewardship Day

10 25 2018

Austin Invasive Plant Control and Floodplain Forest Program Community Stewardship Day
Saturday October 27

All Valley residents concerned about invasive species are encouraged to join the effort to remove invasive plants and restore a native floodplain forest through active stewardship on the Town of Waitsfield’s Austin Parcel.
The Waitsfield Conservation Commission (WCC), consistent with its Invasive Plant Control Program, announces a Community Stewardship Day on Saturday, October 27 from 9 to 3 pm. The Community Stewardship Day represents an opportunity for the local community to both learn about invasives control on the town owned Austin parcel as well as lend a hand stewarding this important floodplain.

Earlier this year, the Commission contracted with Intervale Conservation Nursery (ICN) and its partners, the Mad River Path Association (Path Association) and Friends of the Mad River (FMR), not only to implement invasive plant control measures but also to begin the process of re-establishing a healthy and functioning floodplain forest of native species on the five-acre Austin parcel. The Commission hopes this demonstration program will provide learning opportunities for the community and professionals with regards to invasive plant management and riparian restoration while at the same time deploying effective control measures.

On the morning of the 27th, participants in the Community Stewardship Day will learn about techniques for management of Japanese knotweed, honeysuckle, buckthorn, and other invasive species from ICN and the Path Association. In the afternoon, participants will work with ICN and FMR to learn about floodplain forest restoration and help plant native tree species.

“This is an important opportunity to show what the Conservation Commission has started this summer and will continue next year,” according to Commission Chairman Phil Huffman. “It also will be an opportunity for landowners, concerned citizens and land conservationists to learn more about how to deal with these typical invasive species and to restore Valley riverside lands to a more natural and native condition. And it’s a chance for folks to roll up their sleeves, help out, and have some fun in the process!”

In the past 10-15 years, studies of the Austin Parcel by the Vermont Land Trust and Friends of the Mad River showed the rapid growth of invasive species, and noted its potential for a forest restoration focus. In keeping with the Town Plan and the Wu Ledges Forest Management Plan the WCC has initiated this demonstration project with input from the community.

The WCC Invasives Working Group, ICN, FMR, and the Path Association have worked together since the summer of 2017 to develop and implement a best-practice approach to invasives control. “We hope that people who objected to a chemical assisted methodology, many of whom attended public meetings last year, will come out for the Community Stewardship Day, both to learn and to actively participate in the project,” said Ned Farquhar of the Path Association.

“These problems are not unique to the Valley, but the Waitsfield Conservation Commission has a sensible, well designed project to address them, and to restore natural floodplain conditions,” stated Mike Ingalls of ICN. “This is a good model for a community effort toward best practices in the battle against invasive species and managing the land for conservation.”

Removal techniques including regular cutting (mowing and scything) of knotweed are coupled with composting and heating of the materials to prevent its rapid and uncontrolled regrowth. This past summer the team began that process at the Austin parcel and is now looking to begin implementing the tree planting element of the program. It is hoped, with good solid volunteer participation, hundreds more trees will be planted on Community Stewardship Day.

Participants are asked to carpool as parking at the Lareau swimming hole is limited. Join us for just the morning or afternoon session, or stay all day! Please bring a lunch, water, clothing and footwear appropriate for the weather, and hand tools that you might want to use for removing knotweed. You will also want to have good gardening or work gloves. The Community Stewarding Day will go on rain or shine, regardless of weather. Please feel free to call Mad River Path Association executive director Ned Farquhar at 222-1038 with any questions about the event.

For more information contact Phil Huffman, Waitsfield Conservation Commission Chair Or Mark Haberle, Waitsfield Conservation Commission Austin Invasives Working Group

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