A thicket of knotweed, blackberries, and nettles: Laspa property, 4 years after treatment.
The City of Ridgefield has had two grants for removal of Japanese Knotweed on Gee Creek. In 2005, the city had a $12,500 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for cutting brush and removing knotweed from the stream bank on public and private properties. City employees cut brush to expose knotweed stems and hired a crew of AmeriCorps workers to inject stems with an herbicide. They worked on most public and private properties from Pioneer Street to North Main Avenue. It was a two-year program, but on the second year, the AmeriCorps workers cut brush and did not treat knotweed.
I made the first complaint to the city that I was seeing a lot of knotweeds remaining. In the following years, I made repeated complaints to the city and to the Gee Creek Committee that knotweed was coming back in a big way. In 2009 the knotweed was back worse than in 2005, and in addition, it was deeply embedded in blackberries and nettles. It was now impossible to get near the streambank in many places.
The Gee Creek Committee, led by Lynn Cornelius, suggested the city do a volunteer effort. Many of the property owners were so angry about the 2005 effort they refused permission. Two efforts were done by volunteers in July and the first week of August for properties we had permission to treat. The volunteers were mostly members of Gee Creek Committee: Me, Rhydian Morgan and his sons David and Ryse, Lynn Cornelius, and Tevis Laspa. Even with the two efforts, we had barely made a dent. I continued the effort as a single city volunteer for the next two weeks cutting brush, and injecting knotweed stems. It was overwhelming and little progress was made.
I asked for a meeting with Clark County Weed Management and met onsite with Casey Gosart. I said injecting was too difficult and slow. Nettles and blackberries made it a slow and painful process. Also, cutting brush disturbed bald hornets and yellowjackets. Casey suggested switching from injecting to using a spray. He recommended which chemicals to use and how to work with property owners. Tevis Laspa purchased the chemicals, and we began spraying on his property and his neighbors.
Then, in 2009, Lynn Cornelius found an ecology grant which the city applied for and won. It was a $10,000 Terry Hussman grant. The city was selfish and used the grant for Abrams Park only. They used AmeriCorps workers to inject stems. There were two passes with regular injection and cut stem injection and then the workers were left unsupervised to remove ivy. There were still hundreds of knotweed plants deeply bedded in brush that were untreated. After a couple of confrontations with the public works employee in charge, I finally said I would do the work.
For the next week or so I cut brush and flagged the remaining knotweed plants. When the AmeriCorps workers came back, I worked with them to locate and treat plants. A month later, along with Tevis Laspa, Lynn Cornelius, and Gary Bock, we sprayed as a follow-up on public and private properties on the creek. Finally, the four of us made one more pass in infested areas in the autumn.
For the next few years, in Abrams Park, I would work with a single public works employee treating knotweed. I did work with other volunteers treating other properties. Again, it was Tevis, Gary and Lynn. Tevis and I continued to work together on his and his neighbor’s properties. The work has been difficult and even now there is enough knotweed that if ignored will come back. For the city, it has been long forgotten.
In reading the press releases and newspaper articles about Japanese knotweed on Gee Creek, one would believe that it was a city success story. The success of removing knotweed has been done in spite of the city’s badly done effort. Me? I am an unnamed and unknown volunteer. The second part of the city’s claim is that after removing knotweed and other weedy species, the city was restoring the streambank with native trees. I will write about that next.
Laspa property now (same view): A decade of hard work
By Paul Snoey