the Invasive Species Advisory Committee
of Mad Gardeners, Inc.

Committee History posted 2008

Mad Gardeners see a lot of plants. Many of us hike. Many are on local wetland or conservation commissions. We've seen what invasive plants are doing to our ecosystems. We've been concerned about invasive species for a long time.

The New Milford/Bridgewater population of Mile-a-Minute Vine was discovered by Betsy Corrigan, co-chair of the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group, in 2004 on RT 67. At that time, the only other known populations in CT were in the SW corner of the state, a long way away. Betsy worked with CT Weed Scientist Todd Mervosh and the DOT to have the areas near RT 67 sprayed. She did a lot of searching, contacted many property owners in the area, and found more plants nearby. In September of 2005 a few of us from Connecticut attended a workshop on MAM in New York. That got our adrenaline surging. We started to get organized. We got volunteers to come pull weeds. This ad hoc group pulled more weeds in 2006, but volunteers were hard to find. We didn't start early enough, and plants went to seed. We decided it might be more effective to hire college students to help with the project.

Since many of us were Mad Gardeners, we asked MG to appoint us as a Committee, which they did. The Committee raised money and organized a Mile-a-Minute control project. We arranged with the Housatonic Valley Association and the Northwest Conservation District to be the official employers of our interns. Field work began in May of 2007. By the end of June 2008 we will have 7 college students, a graduate biologist and 2 regular volunteers. This year everybody is part-time, some temporary. We hope to have more regular volunteers by the end of the summer, when there is more searching, and (hopefully) less to destroy. The Nature Conservancy is now taking an active role. They are the official employer of two of our 2008 interns, and will be mowing some of the dense meadows where we will be working.

Education and community outreach are as important to our program as the field work. We talk to people, set up exhibits, distribute posters and ID cards, and solicit media coverage. Lots of newspapers, but so far no TV.

People sometimes ask—why Mile-a-Minute? First, it is new to the state. So far it isn't everywhere—there is still a chance we can eradicate it. Certainly we can slow it down. Second, it causes tremendous damage, blanketing everything in its path up to about 20 feet high. Some plants may survive this yearly onslaught for a while, but only tall trees are likely to survive for any length of time. There will be no new trees to replace them. The won't be the vast diversity of plants needed to provide food for the many insects and other animals in our ecosystems. Third, it is easy to recognize.

 

Invasive Species Advisory Committee
of Mad Gardeners Inc.

Kathleen Nelson, New Milford, CT (Chair)

Angela Dimmitt

Bob Gambino

Eileen Mulvihill

Susan Payne

Catherine Rawson

Richard Rosiello

Cathy Setterlin

Dana Slaughter



Board of Directors, Mad Gardeners Inc.

Kathy Diemer, Sherman (President)

Angela Dimmitt, New Milford, CT (Treasurer)

Andrew Durbridge, Amenia, NY

Robert Gambino, New Milford, CT

Eileen Mulvihill, New Milford, CT

Kathleen Nelson, New Milford, CT

Richard Schipul, New Milford, CT

Sharon Tingley, Sharon, CT

Gay Vincent-Canal, Washington, CT

 

The following individuals and organizations endorse and/or are cooperating with this project:

Housatonic Valley Association
Northwest Conservation District
Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group
Todd L. Mervosh, Weed Scientist, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
The Nature Conservancy, CT
State Senator Andrew Roraback
State Representative Clark Chapin
State Representative Roberta Willis
Mayor Patricia Murphy, New Milford
The Pratt Center, New Milford
The White Memorial Foundation, Inc.
Candlewood Lake Authority
Connecticut Audubon
Litchfield Hills Audubon Society
Peter Picone, Wildlife Biologist, DEP Wildlife Division (Advisor)
Charlotte Pyle, Landscape Ecologist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (Advisor)
Kent Greenhouse, Kent CT
Kent Land Trust
Naromi Land Trust
Sherman Conservation Commission
Washington Conservation Commission



Contact information:
Kathleen Nelson, 55 Mud Pond Road, Gaylordsville, CT 06755
860-355-1547   •   knelson@madgardeners.com