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Issue resolved, mosquito spraying resumes

BRANDON — Confusion between the regulators and a local insect control district last week threatened to halt mosquito spraying around Lake Dunmore and elsewhere in the area leading up to and during the first big weekend of the summer.
But the state Agency of Agriculture put commercial certification for the Brandon Leicester Salisbury Goshen Insect Control District on the fast track last week following the dispute over spraying private roads, and spraying resumed.
BLSG Chair Ben Lawton said Tuesday that the issue of the district’s non-commercial certification was resolved last Friday after he spoke with Vermont Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross.
On May 18, Lawton and BLSG’s Mort Pierpont went before the Leicester selectboard to inform the town that the agency was not allowing the BLSG to spray private roads around Lake Dunmore and Fern Lake. Pierpont said Agricultural Resource Management Section Chief Cary Giguere told him that the organization’s non-commercial certificate limited mosquito spraying to the municipal right-of-way.
Giguere said that while the matter was simply a paperwork issue, he added that although the BLSG had been spraying private roads for years under the non-commercial certificate, there was more public scrutiny on the district’s spraying practices leading to the enforcement of the rule.
After the story appeared in The Reporter and the Addison Independent, Lawton said that the necessary paperwork for a commercial certificate was filed, processed and issued by last Thursday. In addition, the district was able to change it’s insurance coverage under the commercial certificate by Friday.
The change in certification is good news for homeowners around Lake Dunmore and Fern Lake living on private roads. As of Sunday, Lawton said all the private lake roads had been sprayed.
The next hurdle for the BLSG is a better way to treat mosquito larvae in the swamps. The reason the first hatch of the season two weeks ago was so brutal is that the first treatment of larvicide came up short.
Now, Lawton said, the BLSG is hoping the state will help with the purchase of an Argo, a six-wheeled amphibious vehicle to treat the 600 acres of swamp in Whiting and Leicester with mosquito larvicide. For about $25,000, the BLSG could use the Argo to drop larvicide in the swamp. The district used to rely on an airplane owned by the Lemon Fair Insect Control District in Cornwall and Bridport. The plane was used to drop larvicide into the 2,000-acre Cornwall and Whiting swamp areas, where mosquitoes breed. But the Lemon Fair district sold the plane after last season because it cost too much to maintain and insure. Now, volunteers in waders are dropping larvicide by hand, but it is impossible to treat the roughly 600 acres of swampland in the BLSG district that way.
While the BLSG 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 mosquitoes breed. That’s why the BLSG is hoping the state will pay for 75 percent of the cost of an Argo vehicle. No date has been set for a decision on that issue.

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