Reader concerned about County herbicide plan

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Fellow Residents of Lanark County:

On November 23, at a Lanark County Council meeting, our county councillors were provided with a presentation on an Integrated Pest (Vegetation) Management Plan by consultant Ms. Nancy Cain, hired by the Public Works department. You can find the plan here:

Vegetation Management Plan

I am extremely bothered by a few aspects of this plan.

First, although herbicide use is introduced in this report as one of several options of an integrated management system, it is then continually recommended as a solution for killing all types of vegetation, including brush.  Many of the herbicides that people have used in the past have later been proven to be carcinogenic and/or to have negative repercussions on our ecosystem.  Many of the newer herbicides, like Truvist, which is being considered to control wild parsnip, have not been fully tested. Lanark County’s environment, including the people who live there, would basically become a test lab while the impacts unfold.

Staghorn sumac
Staghorn sumac

Second, wild parsnip is not the only focus of this attack. Staghorn sumac, an indigenous plant, is also targeted.  Not poison sumac, but staghorn sumac, which is not even on the Ontario list of noxious weeds!  Check this link to see for yourselves.  As we now all know, milkweed, another native plant, was targeted for herbicide treatment until recently, when people realized that it was essential to the survival of the threatened monarch butterfly.  Like milkweed, staghorn sumac is also an integral part of the Lanark County ecosystem.

Third, the report asserts that wild parsnip needs to be mown three to four times per season for mowing to be effective. According to the Ontario Invasive Plant Council, one strategically timed pass should be sufficient.  Furthermore, the dangers of wild parsnip have been wildly exaggerated; it hasn’t invaded the fields of farmers, and by now the public should be adequately informed to know how to identify wild parsnip and avoid it – and treat skin contact if it occurs.

Finally, Truvist, a more potent herbicide than ClearView (the County used ClearView last summer for its roadside spraying program), is mentioned as an option. Truvist has been found to kill trees, in addition to the plants it was designed to target.  The information on the Truvist information label says as much:  TOXIC to aquatic organisms and non-target terrestrial plants including coniferous and deciduous trees.  See for yourself.

Perhaps, once you’ve read this report, you will find additional problems.  If you share my concern, please let your Lanark County Council representatives know before December 6 (which is coming up fast).  At the November 23 meeting, a motion was passed authorizing a by-law to be prepared for adoption of an IPM Vegetation Management Plan at the December 7 County Council meeting:

Here is the list of County representatives who need to hear from you:

Shaun McLaughlin and Jane Torrance for Mississippi Mills; Louis Antonakos and Jerry Flynn for Carleton Place; Richard Kidd and Sharon Mousseau for Beckwith; Keith Kerr and Brian Campbell for Tay Valley; John Hall and Brian Stewart for Lanark Highlands; John Fenik and John Gemmell for Perth; Gail Code and Aubrey Churchill for Drummond/North Elmsley; Bill Dobson and Klaas Van Der Meer for Montague.

All their email addresses can be found on the Lanark County website:

Please copy the County Clerk Leslie Drynan and Chief Admistrative Officer Kurt Greaves on your correspondence so that it is recorded.

As residents of Lanark County, we have a right and, I would say, a duty to express our concerns.  I hope I can count on your voices to help circumvent an environmentally harmful decision.

Theresa Peluso