By Kathryn G. Menu
The North Haven Village Board of Trustees passed a law Tuesday night allowing residents to clear the mile-a-minute weed without restriction, and appeared poised to weed out other invasive plants that are literally strangling native trees and shrubs throughout the village.
The board held a hearing and adopted the legislation adding the mile-a-minute weed to a small list of invasive plants residents can clear without restriction that now includes poison ivy, sumac and catbrier.
The board also spoke with Tim Purtell, a member of the Shelter Island Committee for Green Options and Vine Busters, a volunteer organization committed to ridding public lands throughout Shelter Island of invasive plants like the mile-a-minute Weed, but also species like Russian olive and Asian bittersweet honeysuckle
On Tuesday, Mr. Purtell said the organization has so far committed itself to working on public lands, clearing properties including trail beds and preserves from invasive, non-native plants. The problem, he noted, is just as bad on private properties.
“The problem is it is already there,” said Mr. Purtell. “A lot of people like the vines because it gives them cover from the road or a neighbor. They don’t understand it will destroy their trees.”
One initiative Mr. Purtell said he has discussed with Shelter Island Highway Superintendent Jay L. Card Jr. is not charging residents for bringing cleared vines to the town’s landfill. He added the group is also reaching out to other municipalities, like North Haven Village, to see if they have ideas for new policies to help stem the tide of invasives.
Village Clerk Georgia Welch noted that allowing the clearing of a handful of invasive species has been the tool North Haven has employed. The village also encourages residents to approach the planning board when they want to clear a plant that is not on the village’s list. Often that board is willing to allow clearing on one section of a property if another is re-vegetated with native species, she said.
While not on the list, Ms. Welch said she has fielded a number of complaints about bamboo in recent years.
“We are starting to hear that on Shelter Island as well,” said Mr. Purtell.
North Haven Mayor Jeff Sander said he believes the board should consider expanding its list of invasive plants appropriate to clear, and would consider adding bamboo. Trustee Jamie Davis agreed to work with Mr. Purtell on a list of invasive plant species.
“If we can find a list of species through the state we should make that available to people coming in with landscaping plans,” added Mayor Sander.
“The struggle is it is hard to get people with these big shrubs to cut them down, and to replace them,” said Mr. Purtell.
Separately, the board scheduled a meeting to close the books on the fiscal year on May 28 at 3 p.m.