Thursday, August 2, 2012

Douglas Johnson: Japanese Knotweed Combatant

A long time summer resident to Seventh Lake, Inlet, Douglas C. Johnson has strong ties to the Adirondacks.  An outdoor enthusiast and certified pesticide applicator, Johnson has a passion to eradicate invasive species that led him to spearhead the Regional Inlet Invasive Plant Program (RIIPP).  In 2008, the program was launched with the mission to eradicate all Adirondack Park lands of invasive knotweed plants.  These invaders out-compete natives for growing space, decrease biodiversity, impede recreation, and could lower property value.

“This effort is crucial to preserve our beautiful landscape from a rampant and dangerous invasive species,” stated Johnson.  “RIIPP works closely with the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program and Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District.”

Japanese knotweed grows along the Adirondack Park’s roadways, in wetlands, and on private property.  This invader can form dense stands 10 feet tall that out-compete native vegetation for water, soil nutrients, sunlight, and growing space.  Root systems can stretch up to 50 feet under the ground, ejecting up new shoots when broken.  Stem fragments that are left on the ground after cutting or mowing can take root to establish new plants.  Early spring emergence gives knotweed a jump start on native Adirondack vegetation.  During the winter, standing biomass that remains on the landscape can be a fire hazard.  When knotweed dies back in the winter, the exposed ground is prone to erosion.


“There are several ways residents and visitors can help with RIIPP’s efforts,” explained Johnson.  “Learn to identify knotweed.  If you see knotweed, ask the property owner whether they have contacted RIIPP to have it treated.  Consider becoming a volunteer or giving a donation.  Since knotweed can spread from tiny root fragments, digging or cutting knotweed is not effective.  Effective control involves a certified applicator treating plants starting about August (when nutrients and pesticides are taken to the roots) by injecting canes and spraying plants to small to inject with glyphosate.”

Johnson’s dedication was recognized in July when he received Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s 2012 Green Action Service Award  for his commitment to eradicating the Adirondack Park of Japanese knotweed.

Conservation District Manager Elizabeth Mangle surprised Johnson with the award at RIIPP’s annual meeting annual meeting in Blue Mountain Lake that was well attended by volunteers, certified herbicide applicators, and partners.  His accomplishments include coordinating RIIPP’s efforts, stem injecting knotweed plants, writing grants for funding, maintaining the No Knotweed website, and inputting geographical data into the iMap Invasives website.

“I am so appreciative of all of Doug’s hard work and passion for killing knotweed,” declared Mangle.  “Without his vision and commitment, we wouldn’t be accomplishing such great work and making strides to achieve the goal of totally eradicating knotweed in the Adirondacks.  His driving force is making the Park greener and knotweed free.  This award is just a small token of our appreciation.”

“In 2011 RIIPP treated about 75,000 knotweed canes at hundreds of sites, with hundreds of hours of volunteer time identifying sites and obtaining property owner permissions, and spending about $14,000 for certified applicators and pesticides,” said Johnson.  “Donations are crucial to these efforts, as RIIPP provides treatments without charge to property owners.  Tax-deductible donations may be made out to: Town of Inlet, Invasive Plant Control Fund; and mailed to: Town of Inlet PO Box 179, Inlet, NY 13360.”

Photos: Above, Japanese knotweed in bloom; Middle, Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Caitlin Stewart, who is 5’9″ tall, stands next to a huge Japanese knotweed stand growing in Indian Lake; Below, Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Manager Elizabeth Mangle (left) presents the Green Action Service Award to Douglas C. Johnson of the Regional Inlet Invasive Plant Program.

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Caitlin Stewart manages the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District. The District's mission is to manage and promote the wise use of Natural Resources in Hamilton County. Caitlin will be sharing the District's conservation-focused services, programs, and events. She’s been a full time resident of Hamilton County since 2008 and is an avid hiker, skier, paddler, and biker. She is obsessed with adventuring with her dog Artemis.

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