Kudzu rears head again

Published 3:08 pm Monday, November 25, 2019

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Polk commissioners hear citizen comments about kudzu problems

COLUMBUS—Polk County Commissioners heard from a couple of citizens this week about kudzu and what the county should do to eradicate it. 

Commissioners met Monday and heard from Ellis Fincher Jr. as well as former cooperative extension director John Vining. 

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Fincher said he has owned his White Oak Mountain property since 1995 and is currently president of the homeowners association. He spoke of 170 different owners in the development and issues with kudzu as well as other growth such as tree of heaven. Fincher said kudzu was not a problem when they moved there in 2004 and now there is a problem. He spoke of the danger to the line of trees and said eventually all that will be left is kudzu. Fincher also said during the county’s last meeting a cost of $3,000-$5,000 an acre was mentioned to treat kudzu but he was quoted by the forest service as much cheaper, $150-$250 an acre. 

Fincher spoke of his father, the late Ellis Fincher Sr., who lived on U.S. 176 in Tryon for 46 years. He said he traded with people and got a house that needed to be demolished and his father sprayed the kudzu with chemicals he purchased from Western Auto. He said with a little bit of work, that area is not cut with a mower. 

Commissioner vice chair Myron Yoder said the private cost for controlling kudzu are about 10 percent of what the public cost would be. Yoder suggested the county keep kudzu on the forefront and give out public information and encourage private property owners to eradicate kudzu. 

Commissioner chair Tommy Melton said the county cannot go on private property but he and the county manager have looked at kudzu on government property. 

“I personally will do anything I can do to help get it eradicated on private property,” Melton said. “As your father did, it really becomes the sole purpose of the property owner to do necessary things to take care of it.”

Vining said he read with interest the article written about the kudzu discussion from the county’s last meeting. He said as of 2019, there are no pros about kudzu. Vining said kudzu does provide some erosion control, but that is way over stated. Vining also said he contacted a wildlife specialist and there was no known wildlife that benefits from kudzu. Vining said he also does not like the word “control” for kudzu. 

“We better talk about eradication,” Vining said. 

Vining said Fincher mentioned kudzu issues on White Oak Mountain and it is also on Holbert’s Cove Road, on Interstate 26 and U.S. 74, which are all new patches. Tryon and other officials have mentioned kudzu overgrowth along U.S. 176 between Tryon and Saluda as well as other areas. 

Vining said if something is not done, “all we are going to be is the kudzu capital of North Carolina.” 

Vining suggested the county starting a program to eradicate kudzu. 

Melton said he used the word “eradicate,” and he will do everything in his power to eradicate the kudzu on county property and private property owners are going to have to take the initiative.