Tryon aims to tackle kudzu problem again

Published 4:56 pm Monday, March 21, 2011

The Town of Tryon is again discussing ways to eradicate kudzu. This time, the town wants to get the community involved.
Tryon Town Council talked about the kudzu problem at its meeting Tuesday, March 15. Because most of the kudzu is located on private land, council members looked at ways to help property owners tackle the problem.
Councilman Doug Arbogast, who requested the item be placed on last week’s agenda, asked if the town can create an ordinance requiring property owners to remove kudzu. Town attorney Bailey Nager said an ordinance wouldn’t be appropriate unless kudzu is on structures. He said some owners couldn’t afford to take measures to eradicate kudzu on their property.
Councilman Austin Chapman said many in the community are willing to take care of areas, with a recent effort being done in Gillette Woods. Chapman said he’d like for the town to assist individual efforts, such as allowing property owners to burn the kudzu once it is taken down.
Tryon Fire Chief Joey Davis said property owners can burn kudzu if they have a permit. He said his department would be glad to assist in any way, such as having a truck on location during burning.
Council also reviewed information about using goats to control kudzu. Tryon Town Manager Justin Hembree said he asked Polk County Cooperative Extension Director John Vining to provide estimates on goats.Vining responded that it costs approximately $625 per year per acre for goats. That cost includes the goat rental and $125 for fencing and costs for a farmer to transport 10 goats.
“The only problem with goats is that they don’t kill it,” said councilman Wim Woody. “It comes back.”
Tryon rented goats a couple of years ago and placed them on a kudzu-filled acre at the corner of Carolina Drive and South Trade Street. The goats ate the kudzu, but in a few months the kudzu grew back.
Hembree said in order to be effective, goats have to come back for three years in a row.
In the last effort, the goats were placed on the town’s acre for about six weeks and did not return. In order to completely eradicate kudzu, Hembree said, goats have to stay the six weeks and come back around the same time every year for three years.
“If it’s done three years in a row the animals get to the bulb and kill it,” Hembree said.
Hembree said one of the problems with using animals to eradicate kudzu is they clear the area, but areas outside the target area also contain kudzu and eventually the outside area grows into the area cleared by goats. He said what needs to be done if goats are chosen is to have them eat one area, then move to other areas until the frost comes, then bring them back the next year to start over. The best time for goats to clear kudzu is from the spring through the fall.
Chapman said a lot can be done with people pulling kudzu. He said the Gillette Woods Association recently formed a committee and met for about three hours on Glenwalden Circle and cleared it.
“You’d be amazed what 36 hours will do for a kudzu patch,” Chapman said. “Private citizens are willing to tackle the issue. We have to get the private property owners involved.”
Chapman suggested the town come up with policies and ways the town can support efforts.
Council also discussed how Tryon’s terrain prohibits some ways kudzu can be cleared. Sprays can’t be used around any type of water source and some higher areas may be difficult to access.
Arbogast said the whole county needs to get involved and each area may have a different solution between chemicals, goats and people.
Council directed Hembree to look into ways to eradicate kudzu and to contact neighborhood associations to discuss beginning programs.
The Saluda Community Land Trust has begun a program in Saluda to eradicate kudzu. Efforts are being undertaken in a couple of areas, including the former city dump, where the land trust plans to construct a greenway and walking trail.
Tryon council also mentioned talking with the Saluda Community Land Trust to get ideas as well as former Tryon Councilman Jim Scott, who spearheaded kudzu eradication efforts in Tryon a few years ago.

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