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May 29, 2014

Cooperstown, DOT agree on vegetation control plan

The state Department of Transportation and Cooperstown have agreed to vegetation control on state Route 80 using the organic herbicide known as Scythe, a media release issued Tuesday said.

In the test, the village has agreed to supply the herbicide, which will be applied by state crews using state equipment, the DOT release said. The Otsego Lake watershed area to be treated is 3 feet wide by 21,500 feet long, or about 1½ acres.

Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz said the agreement to use Scythe instead of Glyphosate to control vegetation reflects cooperation among the village, DOT and the Otsego Lake Watershed Supervisory Committee.

In 2013, Cooperstown expressed concern about the DOT’s use of Glyphosate-based herbicides to control wild, invasive and poisonous vegetation growing in the Route 80 right-of-way. As a result of conversations among the DOT, the village and the committee, the department agreed to not spray herbicides that year.

This year, the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry completed research to evaluate alternatives to herbicides in controlling roadside vegetation. 

Results showed that materials tested were less effective and more costly than synthetic herbicides for vegetation and also confirmed that DOT’s previous use of the Glyphosate-based herbicide was safe and appropriate.

The active ingredient in Scythe herbicide is pelargonic acid, a fatty acid commonly found in plants and animals. Scythe is a contact herbicide that provides a “burn down” effect of vegetation, the release said. Parts of plants that come in contact with Scythe are killed, the release said, but the sections below ground may re-sprout.

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