Limited glyphosate herbicide use will be allowed on invasive species, including blackberries
By Morgan Rothborne, Ashland.news
Ashland Parks & Recreation Commissioners on Wednesday approved another three-year contract for continued riparian restoration using controlled herbicides with the Freshwater Trust.
Eugene Wier, Freshwater Trust restoration program manager in the Rogue Valley, requested a three-year extension of a waiver of its Integrated Pest Management Policy for the Freshwater Trust to use limited herbicides to control invasive weeds that threaten native species in riparian corridors, according to meeting materials.
Weir said the nonprofit “carefully and judiciously” uses glyphosate herbicides to treat weeds in Ashland’s riparian corridors such as Bear Creek and Ashland Creek. The nonprofit has used limited herbicides with success on city of Ashland properties since 2019 as part of a city of Ashland water quality trading program to protect water quality and remain in compliance with the Clean Water Act, according to meeting materials.
The herbicides will be used as sparingly as possible and directed only at noxious weeds listed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture, he said. These weeds include blackberries and others known to carry fire as they did during the Almeda Fire in September 2020, Weir said.
After questioning from Commissioner Rick Landt to ensure the herbicide use will be as limited as it can be, the commissioners unanimously voted in favor of the waiver extension. It will be valid until Dec. 31, 2026.
In the Parks Director’s report, Eldridge reported bad and good news.
“We continue to struggle with incidents of vandalism and theft,” Eldridge said.
There were several “high damage and high loss” incidents on APRC properties in November and January. All incidents have been reported to Ashland police, she said.
In mid-November, a chain link fence was cut and equipment including a chainsaw was stolen from the maintenance shop at North Mountain Park. Cost of the damage was valued at around $1,ooo, which does not include repairs to the fence.
In the beginning of January, landscaping at Bluebird Park was, “pruned, cut, ripped out,” Eldridge said. The damage was valued at $2,500 and was the second incident of its kind at the park.
Over the weekend of Jan. 6 and 7, the Lithia Park shop was breached. It is assumed the perpetrator jumped the fence. The damage was valued at around $5,000. Machinery was stolen and three APRC vehicles were disabled.
Holes were drilled into the gas tanks of two vehicles and another had a cut fuel line in order to steal the gas from vehicles with locked gas caps. APRC is working with the city to develop a plan for replacement of the vehicles, she said.
“We’re looking at some steps here to increase security, plans for cameras. … improved fencing, more lighting. … Hopefully with our new hires we will be having at least some occasional night time presence of staff moving through those areas,” she said.
The Alice and Wonderland Trail has also been rerouted to avoid the private property the original trail crossed through. The old trail has locked gates at both entrances and signage, she said.
In other business Wednesday, commissioners voted unanimously to approve the updated Parks, Trails and Open Space map and an accompanying technical document.
The updated map will require a vote of approval from the Ashland Planning Commission and City Council before it becomes official. The Planning Commission is scheduled to review the map Jan. 23, while council is scheduled to vote on a first reading Feb. 20., according to meeting materials. The technical support document “tells the story” of the map, Eldridge said.
The map represents Parks and Recreation priorities for land acquisition and future planning. It previously outlined hundreds of acres of property for acquisition in line with APRC’s previous goal of creating a park within one-quarter mile of every residence in Ashland, Eldridge said.
Now this goal is complete — with the exception of the Mistletoe and Croman Mills neighborhoods — and APRC has shifted priorities to land easements and smaller purchases for riparian restoration, wildfire prevention and trail connectivity, she said.
Commissioners also listened to a presentation from Ana Byers, executive director of the World Music Festival. The nonprofit partners with APRC to bring the festival to Ashland each year. It is growing exponentially, Byers said.
The festival has seen a doubling of attendance every year. Last year, 5,000 people attended and 8,000 attendees for this year is a “conservative estimate,” she said. The average attendee spends $38.44 in Ashland during the festival. Byers said this year she is excited for the festival to “be your guinea pig” for the recent Ashland City Charter change to allow controlled alcohol in city parks.
Email Ashland.news reporter Morgan Rothborne at email@example.com.