SELECTMEN NEWS: Town’s Vegetation Management Plan “A Success;” Spraying Of Herbicides Is Down; Public Comments Sought

WILMINGTON, MA — DPW Operations Manager Jamie Migaldi provided the Wilmington Board of Selectmen with an update on the progress of the town’s Vegetation Management Plan.

“The Vegetation Management Plan allows us to get into the right of way road site and control weeds,” said Migaldi. “Residents see DPW workers mechanically cutting and trimming and treating for weeds, but what they may not know is this is a five-year plan that took a year to plan and prepare.”

Prior to the plan’s implementation, mechanical control methods, such as weedwhackers, weren’t “cutting it” for the town, as roadside weeds were greatly impacting intersection site distance, travel lane width, and pedestrian paths.

In an effort to improve mitigating roadside vegetation, the DPW submitted a five-year Vegetation Management Plan in 2013 to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.  This allowed the town to apply EPA-approved herbicides to Rights of Way as part of an integrated annual roadside weed and overgrowth maintenance program.  The plan defined certain vegetation to target and set restrictions for responsible use of herbicides around sensitive environmental areas.

The plan, which was approved in December 2013 and runs from January 2014 to December 2018, takes a multi-facted approach to managing roadside vegetation, including mechanical control, cultural control, developmental controls, and herbicides.

During each year of the five-year plan, a Yearly Operations Plan (YOP) is submitted to the state. The YOP explains the planned work for the year, the previous year’s efforts, and outlines safety measures and points of contact.

Wilmington’s latest YOP can be read HERE. Public comments are due March 2, 2018.

“The town’s Vegetation Management Plan has been very successful,” said Migaldi. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on it. Yes, herbicides can be a scary thing, but it’s heavily monitored. We’re doing it all by the book. And it’s being implemented exclusively using our in-house DPW staff.”

“We’re saving thousand and thousands of dollars a year in consulting fees by having this done in-house,” continued Migaldi, noting Wilmington is just one of two Massachusetts communities with a plan that doesn’t use consultants.

Migaldi showed “before treatment” and “after treatment” photos of several areas around town, including at the intersection of Concord Street and Woburn Street.

Migaldi said residents can call the DPW and ask for vegetation control on their street.  DPW staff will then make a determination whether or not the request fits in with the plan’s priorities, which tends to focus on areas around heavily trafficked intersections and sidewalks.

“The plan’s number one priority is public safety,” stressed Migaldi.

Due to the current plan’s success, Migaldi says the town will reapply, but may let the plan lapse a year during 2019, as it takes at least six months to prepare.  During the year off, the town will continue to use mechanical control methods and other methods, but would temporarily cease the spraying of herbicides.

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