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Letter: A New Threat to Natural Areas

To the Editor:

With spring finally arriving, our fields and forests are coming alive with new growth. Unfortunately, along with our native plants, this new growth includes exotic invasive species that are increasingly invading our neighborhoods and natural areas. One of these invasive species is garlic mustard, a biennial plant that can quickly fill in forest understories, outcompete native spring flowers and directly affect the survival of hardwood seedlings.

Garlic mustard is relatively new in the Upper Valley and therefore a good target for our efforts to prevent its spread into our healthy forests. It often arrives in hay bales used in landscaping and construction projects (straw bales are preferable) and spreads readily along roadways and places such as the rail trail in Lebanon. From these byways it extends into disturbed adjacent lands, such as forestry landings and excessively browsed areas.

Spring pulling parties, usually in early- to mid-May, are the best way to attack garlic mustard. A number of regional conservation groups are organizing a regionwide effort this spring. The Lebanon Conservation Commission is hosting a talk by Dartmouth forest ecology researcher Jeffrey Evans entitled, “So What’s the Big Problem with Garlic Mustard?” at the Kilton Library, Main Street, West Lebanon, on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Plan to come to the talk to learn more about garlic mustard, how to identify and report it, and how to find a pulling party in your neighborhood. Also watch for displays at various public places in the Upper Valley that will include actual specimens.

Donald Lacey

Lebanon Conservation Commission