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Colton looks to tackle Japanese Knotweed invasion


COLTON — The town has taken preliminary steps to exterminate a Japanese knotweed invasion.

The aggressive invasive riparian plant was the main focal point in Andrea M. Malik’s report to town officials last week. She told officials she was asked by Town Supervisor Dennis B. Bulger to look into getting certified to control the plant.

“I know there’s no budget for it, so I thought I would just look into the expenses and the costs it would take to do that preliminary step of getting certified, and that’s what I’ve given you here,” Ms. Malik said.

Volunteers cannot apply pesticides, but can do tasks such as land notifications and work as apprentices, she said.

Ms. Malik would get certified, then train others, who would take an eight-hour course, then do 40 hours of training on the job.

Costs for the town will include $150 for the Category 3A online course, $41 for the training manual and $100 for a state Department of Environmental Conservation exam in May. An additional $150 will be added every three years to the $450 that the town already pays every three years for aquatic insect certification.

Ms. Malik said she has contacted the town of Inlet, which has been paying workers $40 per hour, excluding labor, through its program.

“It’s pretty labor-intensive work. You have to inject each individual stem with the pesticide and you might have to go back for up to five years. But it is a problem, as you know. You can’t treat near wetlands or streams,” she said.

Mr. Bulger said he envisions taking “some baby steps” by getting Ms. Malik qualified and knowledgeable “so that she can then recommend to the board the kind of program that we might want in the future.”

He said the budget can handle the upfront cost to get her certified.

Tourism and Beautification Coordinator Ruth T. McWilliams also was in favor of getting the process started with Ms. Malik’s certification.

“One of the things that I’ve talked to Andrea about in the whole knotweed arena is there is a lot of knotweed in town, but a lot of people don’t realize it’s an invasive. They think it’s a beautiful oriental plant and they don’t realize until it’s an acre in size or more that it’s actually a problem,” Ms. McWilliams said. “So while this is going on, somehow if we could just raise awareness with the citizenry about what knotweed is, what it looks like, that it’s going to start spreading once the snow goes away.”

Ms. Malik began the Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis program in Colton 29 years ago and serves as its director. Bti deals primarily with black fly control. The hamlet has a mosquito control program as well.

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