Partnership formed in Polk County for kudzu eradication

Published 5:01 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The study will take advantage of the county&squo;s access to aerial images. According to Polk County GIS Technician David Weisgerber, &dquo;Our GIS system has incredible capabilities that we are using on projects that help county officials understand issues by seeing data on a map.&dquo; &bsp;

The GIS system, which has helped on projects such as laying out fire department boundaries, will be used to determine where the kudzu is located and store data about it. &bsp;

Jean Boles, affiliated with the Bulletin, said, &dquo;We hope that such questions as how many parcels have significant kudzu, what percent of the county acreage is covered, and how quickly is it growing will be answered by the study.&dquo;

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Boles will be among the volunteers who will make it possible to conduct this project with no public funding.

The group intends to garner community support for kudzu eradication. Members say the public is starting to notice that the good growing season has made kudzu more aggressive this year.

Within the public sector, the partnership will be approaching each local government and asking them to develop long-range plans to remove kudzu from the properties that they own. Public lands and those of absentee owners are the most vulnerable to infestation.

According to John Vining, cooperative extension agent, &dquo;It will be necessary to use some private funds when tackling kudzu on private lands. Local governments won&squo;t allow the use of tax dollars on private property and total eradication is critical to the success of this effort.&dquo;

With this in mind, the partnership will be approaching the Polk County Community Foundation with a proposal for a kudzu fund under the foundation umbrella. Such a fund would be supported by donated money. It could fund demonstration projects and provide assistance to non-public land owners.

The Kudzu Coalition of Spartanburg has agreed to do a demonstration eradication project in Polk County. The partnership will be collaborating with this and other initiatives in adjacent counties.

The partnership will also be encouraging local landscape contractors to develop expertise in kudzu elimination.

Chauncey Barber, agriculture teacher at Polk Co. High School, says he is interested in possible opportunities for students to learn about invasive species control and the use of GIS systems to promote appropriate land use management.

According to Betsy Burdett of the Saluda Community Land Trust, they have &dquo;completed a baseline report on the North Pacolet River and the number one priority cited in that report is the eradication of kudzu.&dquo;

The land trust is actively looking for solutions, Burdett says.