Letter: Invasive plant foes invade Falmouth's coffers

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On June 18 the Falmouth Town Council voted 5-1 to appropriate $18,000 for a “pilot” study of invasive plants. The Conservation Commission requested it because “Falmouth has a substantial infestation of invasive terrestrial plants …” which left unchecked will overwhelm native plants and animal communities. Those broad assertions may or may not be scientifically accurate. For present purposes let’s accept them at face value.

Since a substantial infestation of invasive plants has been identified along roadsides, on town lands and private property, it was unnecessary to appropriate any sum to “identify” them. Furthermore, effective physical and chemical eradication methods are well known.

The major cause of invasive plants is the wind, bird and animal droppings. No neighboring communities are identifying or attempting to eradicate invasive plants. Until the wind, birds and animals can be controlled and surrounding towns take up the battle, Falmouth’s loan effort is shoveling sand against the tide.

If invasive plants are a problem in town the best way to get rid of them is to budget funds for Parks and Recreation and/or Public Works to get the necessary chemicals and applicators to tackle the job. Conservation Commission volunteers and school students required to perform community service could map areas of infestation. The town open space ombudsman could oversee the efforts as part of his regular duties. That approach would be effective and financially prudent. No new department. No new employees.

The $18,000 could have been put to better use by providing assistance to residents who will need help buying fuel oil this winter.

M. Roberts Hunt