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Mosquito district buys new rig to aid swamp spraying

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Posted on June 9, 2016 |
By Lee J. Kahrs



Mosquito district amphibious vehicle RGB.jpg
THE ARGO XTI is an eight-wheeled amphibious off-road vehicle that will be outfitted with sprayers and used in the wetland areas of Whiting, Salisbury and possibly Pittsford where mosquitos breed. The Brandon Leicester Salisbury Goshen Pittsford Mosquito Control District will use the Argo to treat the wetlands with larvicide. Courtesy photo

BRANDON/LEICESTER/SALISBURY/GOSHEN/PITTSFORD — It’s been a year since the area’s mosquito control district raised the idea of buying an amphibious vehicle to apply larvicide in swamp areas. Now, that notion is a reality, thanks to some help from interested parties.

The Brandon Leicester Salisbury Goshen, and now Pittsford, Mosquito Control District recently acquired a 50/50 match grant through the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to purchase a $40,000 Argo XTI all-terrain amphibious vehicle. The Argo will be used to distribute larvicide across roughly 600 acres of swamp area in Whiting and Salisbury, where mosquitos breed in standing water.

The grant proposal was prepared and presented to the state by Lake Dunmore resident Jay Michael. Although he has been a trustee of the Lake Dunmore Fern Lake Association for many years, Michael said last Tuesday that his work on the grant proposal was as a private citizen.

“I had done many fundraisers in the past with the LDFLA,” he said, “and I had heard that the mosquito district wanted to pursue this funding, but they were short on resources to tackle it. I decided to get personally involved and assist with the proposal.”

Michael said the district expects to take delivery on the Argo around June 10. It will then be outfitted with spray machines and put to use by the middle of June.

Last July, BLSG Board Chair Ben Lawton presented a proposal for the purchase of an Argo at a cost of about $25,000. But Lawton said the state wanted more information on the proposal. Michael added that the state wasn’t sure that an Argo fit the description of a capital appropriation.

“They finally decided that it did, through the Agency of Agriculture,” Michael said.

On Tuesday, Lawton said State Reps. Steve Carr and Butch Shaw were instrumental in helping to usher the grant proposal through the proper channels in Montpelier.

While the BLSGP is responsible for the cost and treatment of adult mosquito spraying, or adulticide, the Agency of Agriculture pays for the cost and application of larvicide to kill mosquito larvae in the swamps where mosquitos breed. That’s why the BLSGP was hoping the state would pay for at least half of the cost of an Argo.

The need for an alternative method of distributing larvicide came about last spring. The BLSGP used to use an airplane owned by the Lemon Fair Mosquito District in Cornwall, but the district sold the plane last year. Since then, larvicide has had to be distributed manually by volunteers in waders — a time-consuming process.

And now that the state rules have changed on the amount of acreage a district must have to treat before triggering state assistance, Lawton said the Argo will save money in the long run.

“We’re excited at the prospect of having it because of the state changes in minimum acreage,” he said. “Now you have to have a minimum of 1,000 acres to treat to call in a helicopter for larvicide, which costs $1,850 an hour and takes two hours just to get here and back.”

The Argo will also help the BLSGP’s newest member town, Pittsford. Last month, the Pittsford selectboard voted to join the district for the purposes of treating wetland areas with larvicide, but will not participate in the adulticide spraying done by the BLSGP.

And while the district has to contribute $20,000 of its own money toward the Argo, it is getting help from the LDFLA and the Keewaydin Foundation. Michael said the LDFLA is contributing $3,000, as is the Keewaydin Foundation, which oversees venerable Camp Keewaydin on Lake Dunmore.

Mosquitos have been a nuisance in the Lake Dunmore area for decades, which led to the formation of the mosquito control district.

“It’s in our best interest (to support the BLSGP), there’s no doubt about it,” Michael said. “We’ve made modest contributions in the past, and we just stepped up this year.”

While the Argo XTI costs more than the district planned to spend, Michael said it was recommended after contacting a number of mosquito districts in the Northeast.

“They all said get this one,” he said. “It has all the capabilities they need as far as really being in the water. They all said the Argo XTI was worth the extra dollars.”

Michael added that, to their credit, the district researched a number of used vehicles first, but couldn’t find one that would work.

“This machine will last them at least 10 years and will provide good service,” Michael said.

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