Friday, August 4, 2006
State will enlist beetles to combat loosestrife at Great Brook
The Conservation Commission may have escaped a bullet just ahead of its July 27 meeting when an official letter arrived on Conservation Administrator Sylvia Willard's desk. The letterhead read "Executive Office of Environmental Affairs," and the subject concerned purple loosestrife at Great Brook Farm State Park, which at first glance could have been unwelcome news concerning ConsCom's denial of a state agency's project. A little background will explain.
At its July 13 meeting the Commission rejected a Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Notice of Intent to use herbicides for eradication of loosestrife at the small pond near the Duffy ice cream stand. They had previously asked the applicants to offer alternative, non-chemical control measures compatible with established ConsCom and Carlisle Board of Health (BOH) policy that seeks to avoid contamination of residential well water resources. The applicants had felt that no alternatives were appropriate to their project and insisted on using herbicides in their original plan. The commission had then proceeded to deny the request by a three-two-one vote.
Since ConsCom had anticipated that the DCR might appeal the rejection, they were much relieved to see that the state's Wetland Restoration Program had volunteered to support the DCR loosestrife control project by providing for release of loosestrife leaf-eater beetles (Galerucella). They noted further that similar projects in Massachusetts have required three to four years to bring about significant declines in the target invasive, but that they would work with the DCR to coordinate the beetle release schedule and assure effective monitoring of the project.
Significant information for others who may be fighting a similar battle was the following quote: "A bio-control series is an ideal solution for control of such invasives, when an appropriate target-specific agent has been identified and approved, as is the case with Galerucella." Conveniently for all concerned, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has indicated that it is not necessary for the DCR to file an NOI under the Wetland Protection Act for this particular bio-control application. So, the DCR and ConsCom are spared any further confrontation.
© 2006 The