Posted: 7/14/17; Resources added 7/19/17
Greetings Mad River watershed community,
As you're likely aware, there has been quite a bit of discussion over the last two weeks about herbicide use to control invasive plants as part of a plan to establish floodplain forest at Waitsfield’s Austin parcel.
As you may imagine, this is a very complex issue. Non-native invasive plants are abundant in and around the Austin parcel, which degrades the river and floodplain functioning (compared to a native floodplain forest, there is lower quality wildlife habitat, increased streambank erosion, and diminished ability to slow flood waters). There are no easy choices in managing this site.
For over five years, Friends has worked with the Conservation Commission towards riparian restoration at the Austin parcel. FMR appreciates that the Commission has gone through a thoughtful and open process to balance the costs and benefits regarding the site's management. We also appreciate that they have worked with experts to understand best practices and have chosen a highly-regarded, licensed contractor (Redstart Natural Resources Management) who has performed this work successfully elsewhere in Vermont. I have advised the Commission as
requested throughout this process.
Careful use of herbicides to control invasive plants and restore riparian functioning is an established best practice for complex management situations. These chemicals are present in our watershed (some Vermont farmers and landowners use herbicide to kill unwanted plants as it is largely unregulated and can be easily purchased). At the same time, toxicologists have raised many legitimate concerns about the use of these chemicals.
FMR understands the situation’s complexity and we know the decision involves many different values – environmental, philosophical, political, ethical, and so on. We're looking forward to learning more ourselves, to the public forum hosted by the Conservation Commission and Selectboard, and to a well-informed discussion and continued conversation on this topic.
The tentative time/date for the town's public forum is the evening of July 24 (I will update this when the Conservation Commission and Selectboard finalize details).
Hope to see you there,
Corrie Miller, Executive Director
More information about the proposed project can be found here:
Valley Reporter Article - July 6, 2017
Valley Reporter Article - July 13, 2017
Valley Reporter Editorial - July 13, 2017
Waitsfield Conservation Commission Meeting Minutes (scroll to Conservation Commission)
Selectboard Meeting Documents - "Austin Invasives Control Demonstration Selectboard Packet"
Selectboard Meeting Documents - "Austin Parcel Invasives RFP"
Selectboard Meeting Documents - "Austin Parcel Invasives Evaluations and Proposal"