Letter to the editor: Managing invasives crucial to pollinator habitat

Here in Addison County, people are celebrating National Pollinator Week June 19-25 with garden tours, book displays at libraries, and more. 

In my town of Weybridge, we are celebrating the beginning of two new initiatives related to pollinators. 

We are excited to unveil our pollinator-friendly garden at the Town Clerk’s Office on Quaker Village Road. Months of planning and hard work by a dedicated group of volunteers, part of the Pollinator Pathway Weybridge (PPWEY), have made this a welcoming space for native pollinators. We are pleased that this garden will be both beautiful to look at, and great for our beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife.

A lesser-known goal for creating pollinator habitat is managing invasive plants that crowd out our native pollinator plants. At PPWEY, we have identified a patch of the highly invasive Japanese Knotweed along the Otter Creek River. This shrubby plant grows along riverbanks and spreads like wildfire once it gets a foothold. Introduced to the United States in the early 1900s as an ornamental plant, it has now become a real problem in Vermont. Besides crowding out the beneficial native plants that pollinators and other wildlife rely on, knotweed restricts recreational access to rivers because of its dense growth, and destabilizes riverbanks because of its shallow root structure.

With guidance from knotweed crews from Waitsfield, a hardy group of Weybridge volunteers meets twice a month to cut down the knotweed canes at the surface and leave them on a rack to dry so they can be disposed of without starting a new infestation somewhere else. Visit our site alongside the sidewalk just next to the Pulp Mill Bridge. There are signs to explain what we are doing and why.

Once this first project is successfully completed, we will look for other sites in Weybridge. This plant is best managed in the early stages of its development, so early detection is vital. If members of other towns want to tackle their own knotweed problem, they can contact PPWEY at [email protected].

For more information about identifying and managing Japanese knotweed and other common invasive plant species such as honeysuckle, Dame’s Rocket, garlic mustard, wild parsnip, and buckthorn without using harmful chemicals, check out Got Weeds? where Mike uses sustainable practices for managing unwanted plants.

Fran Putnam


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