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Colton looks to tackle Japanese Knotweed issue

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COLTON - The town of Colton has taken the preliminary steps in an attempt to exterminate a Japanese Knotweed invasion.

The aggressive invasive riparian plant was the main focal point in Andrea Malik’s report to town officials earlier this week.

“I’m here because (Town Supervisor Dennis Bulger) asked me to look into getting certified to possibly control Japanese Knotweed. 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. I wanted to get approval before I follow through on that,” Ms. Malik said.

“Just to mention some of the other logistical things - for instance volunteers cannot apply pesticides. Volunteers can be utilized to maybe do land notifications and things like that but not for applying pesticides.

“Unlike with the BTI program where everyone has to be certified because we’re applying BTI directly to water, the people can work as an apprentice. I could get certified and then train people. They would just have to go through an eight- hour training on CORE material and the manual and then do 40 hours of on the job training with me and there’s no additional fees involved. So that’s a possibility.”

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

“I contacted the town of Inlet, and they have been doing a program and I made some phone calls and they pay the people up to $40 an hour but they don’t include mileage. 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. There are other products that can be used for aquatic Knotweed but I don’t think it’s something we’d want to get into because it’d take a whole nother level of certification,” Ms. Malik said. “I just wanted to get your ok to go ahead with the first step.”

“Andrea and I have talked about this on two or three different occasions in passing and what I sort of visualize here is taking some baby steps by getting Andrea qualified at least to be knowledgeable in this area so that she can then recommend to the board the kind of program that we might want in the future,” Mr. Bulger said.

“So I think it’s well worth our time and the budget can handle this up front cost to get her certified in that area. Then she can come forth and recommend to us how to go about this program.”

Tourism and Beautification Coordinator Ruth T. McWilliams was also 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, it’s going to start spreading once the snow goes away. It would be nice if people knew what it looked like and recognized it.”

Ms. Malik began the Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis (BTI) program in Colton 29 years ago and serves as the director. BTI deals primarily with black fly control and the hamlet has a mosquito control program as well.

“How the BTI works for the black flies, we treat the black fly larvae with BTI and that is located in streams. The treatment needs to be in moving water,” Ms. Malik said.

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