By Justin Roshak, Contributing Writer
HUDSON – The Hudson Conservation Commission approved a plan to spend $25,000 over the next five years to address Japanese knotweed and other invasive shrubs along the Assabet River.
The funds will cover about 6,000 square feet of knotweed and spot removal of other invasive plants in an approximately 15,000-square-foot area.
Knotweed grows in groves of thick stalks. Its roots are difficult to remove as, in locations like the Assabet River, even small pieces of stems can drift downriver and re-grow into a new grove.
“If you don’t go forward with removing it, it will come back,” commission member Heidi Graf said of knotweed. “It’s really the only way to manage it.”
“The idea is to weaken the knotweed by repeated pulling and then to (hopefully) kill it by cutting the stems and painting them with herbicide. This is a multi-year effort but hopefully each year will be progressively easier,” Assistant Director of Planning and Community Development and Conservation Agent Pam Helinek wrote in an email.
This treatment, removal, and restoration effort could further be a pilot for similar projects elsewhere along the Assabet, commission member James Martin suggested.
The estimated cost will be $7,000 in the first year, $6,000 in the next, and $4,000 for several years after.
As of its July 15 meeting, the commission had approximately $142,000 in one of its funds, and $4,000 in another, Helinek reported. Both funds are earmarked for riverfront restoration work, she said.
“We don’t really have another restoration project,” Helinek said. “The $142,000 has been sitting there, unspent for a number of years, waiting for the right project.”
The motion to allocate $25,000 over five years passed with one commission member abstaining.
The commission is also looking at removing Trees of Heaven, which are fast-spreading, self-cloning invasive plants. Native trees would be used as replacements.