Falmouth residents urged to join fight against invasive plants

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FALMOUTH — Residents with an eye for insidious invasive plants should attend a meeting at the Falmouth Memorial Library April 24 to learn how they can help rid the town of terrestrial leaches like honeysuckle and multi-flora rose.

The meeting, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., is part of the “Invasive-Free Falmouth” initiative by the Conservation Commission. The goal is to rid town conservation lands, as well as residents’ back yards, of invasive plants that choke out native species.

Open Space Ombudsman Bob Schafto said the effort is twofold: trying to control invasives on town-owned conservation lands, and later to train resident “Weed Watchers” to look out for these plants in their neighborhoods to help prevent the spread of seeds.

“What (the plants) are doing is taking over a large area of our community and when they do that they degrade the habitat and make it much more difficult for native species to exist,” Schafto said.

The first part of the effort began last year with work at the River Point Conservation area, where three members of the Conservation Commission were certified as herbicide applicators and aided in the removal of around 1,200 invasive species from the property.

Schafto says there is more work to do there and on other town properties, but the work really can pay off with homeowners, because they are often the ones unknowingly planting the invasive species.

“The big (invasives) are honeysuckle, bittersweet, multi-flora rose, buckthorn and purple lustrife,” he said. “The one thing they all have in common is they are very pretty and were planted as ornamentals. But what people didn’t realize at that time was that they are lethal to native species and it turns out they aren’t doing us any favors, either. It increases your chances of getting Lyme Disease if you have these things in your yard.”

(Ticks are more attracted to the plants, Schafto said.)

Schafto said anyone interested in becoming a Weed Watcher should attend the April 24 meeting so they can learn about what is being done and later take a leadership role in neighborhoods.

Residents will receive a mailing soon about how they can obtain discounts at local gardening and landscaping businesses on services and products aimed at removal of invasive species by participating in the initiative.

“We are trying to be comprehensive about this,” Schafto said. “It is a multi-pronged sort of effort which we hope will make an impact over years.”

Amber Cronin can be reached at [email protected] or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.