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DEEP Herbicide Spraying Prompts Deep Concerns



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To the Editor:

We wanted our neighbors to be aware of an event on April 27 on the state-owned unimproved property at 135 Berkshire Road. This is a popular parcel for hunting currently owned and maintained by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), and some of you may know it as the Kazan Property.

In the rain on Thursday, April 27, a contractor for DEEP sprayed a 4-acre section of this property with the following herbicides: RODEO (main ingredient glyphosate, also known as RoundUp), ESCORT (main ingredient metsulfuron-methyl), and POLARIS (main ingredient imazapyr). This application was performed on the top of a hill which is above both Kearns Farm’s property and Appleberry Farm’s property.

The herbicides were applied using a HOSE from the back of an ATV that drove back and forth along the property. Not a misting spray. A hose. We took video. The combination of these three herbicides will indiscriminately kill every bit of vegetation on the entire treated area, including native vegetation. The goal of this herbicide application, according to DEEP, was to eliminate Mile-a-minute vine (polygonum perfoliatum) from the parcel.

DEEP claimed this was the best method for removal, but according to the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group and UCONN extension’s “invasive plant fact sheet,” this invasive vine can be removed just as effectively by pulling it out of the ground before it sets berries (which is how it reproduces) or by mowing the area in which it is growing. It is an annual plant, and only reproduces from dropped seeds from the previous year.

If this vine is controlled by hand-pulling and mowing, why was DEEP hosing down this parcel with three of the strongest herbicides around (two of which are only allowed to be applied by licensed sprayers)? Many neighboring towns have had “pulling parties” and volunteers worked together to pull the vines successfully WITHOUT the use of herbicides. Why was this not an option?

I have been in touch with First Selectman Rosenthal, State Senator Hwang, State Representatives Bolinsky and Foncello, the Newtown Conservation Commission, the Northeast Organic Farming Association, as well as the State Pesticide Department who sent an inspector out to sample our soil, water, and grass adjacent to the sprayed field on May 2.

All are extremely concerned by this situation, and are working to make sure more herbicides are not applied down the road.

We want our neighbors to be aware of the application of these herbicides when there were safe, effective, and widely published non-chemical options available. Environmentally sound alternatives that will not impact our soils, water, air, or native wildlife are ALWAYS the better solution, but apparently DEEP just went with quick and easy without regard for environmental contamination or our community’s heath.

If safe mechanical alternatives to herbicides are available and effective, those should be the FIRST line of defense against invasive species.

Kate Osborne Munno — Appleberry Farm

Sandy Hook

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