Text & Photos: Maria Moore
The ditch that runs the whole length of Stub Hollow Road, punctuated as it is by culverts, becomes a veritable watercourse during certain times of the year, spawning its own unique fauna and flora. Knowing this, I try to go to Bakerville by way of Stub Hollow as often as I can, turning a 4-mile drive into a 4 miles-per-hour trip. I did this yesterday, and was well rewarded for my time: Patches of scarlet lobelia blazed along the shady watercourse which had all the appearance of a brook. As I stopped my car and walked along the unpaved road, I was accompanied by the sound of frogs making plopping noises as they jumped into the safety of the water. The lobelia was magnificent, as was the greenness that surrounded it. There were so many shades of green that they defied naming; indeed, I wonder if we have names for half the shades.
Here and there, as I walked along, the green abruptly turned to brown, a sign – as I quickly learned – that I was approaching a culvert. Now, culverts are not beautiful but they have a useful function in that they act as conduits to convey water from one area to another. Along Stub Hollow, they conduct the water underneath intersecting roads such as Beeney and West Hill, thus helping to preserve the road beds. To function well, culverts have to be maintained and the vegetation around them must be controlled, and this is where our Highway Department comes in.
“It’s part of Operations under the (Board of) Selectmen’s direction.” Christine Hayward said, when I asked for help in understanding the presence of the brown patches amid the greenness. “The town sprays every few years to control the weeds.” She continued. “Do you consult with Inland-Wetlands or Conservation [commissions]?” I asked. “No,” Christine answered, with a puzzled air. “Allison (Murdoch, the Conservation Chairwoman) was aware of it, but it’s part of Operations.” Christine then gave me a copy of a letter from the town’s subcontractor, detailing the spraying that was to be done and she also found a label of the herbicide that was used, Prosecutor by Lesco; see the copy of the letter and the label below. “It’s broken down by sunlight and doesn’t accumulate in the soil… It’s very safe around humans and animals and other life forms.” Christine read from the letter. “Oh, I’m glad,” I said. “When people see spraying and they don’t know the details, they get very concerned about it.” And so, wishing Christine a great – and well earned – vacation, I left to go on my way.
Back to Stub Hollow, where the lobelia shone brilliantly in the sea of greenness that surrounded it. Such a thing of beauty was the ditch-turned-brook, with only me and my camera to record it. Yes, even to record the brownness that made the green so much more vibrant.
Following are a few of the photos of the brook along Stub Hollow. Please make the time for a 4-mile-an-hour drive to see this beautiful sight yourself, before the water slows to a trickle, and the brook becomes a ditch again until the next heavy rainfall.
Stating the obvious: New Hartford is blessed with many wetlands, watercourses and ditches running along our roads that turn into brooks following a good rain. All this water flows down towards the lowest points, some of which are the Farmington River, Cedar Swamp and yes, even West Hill Lake. Anything that is introduced into flowing water stands a good chance of reaching one of these larger bodies of water.
The town’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission is charged with “the protection, preservation, maintenance and use of the inland wetlands and watercourses.” (Sec. 1.1.1 – Inland Wetlands and Watercourses regulations; quoted from the entry on page 98 of the 2012 New Hartford Telephone Directory.
The town’s Conservation Commission’s charge is “to protect natural resources (soil, air, water, flora, and fauna) in New Hartford…”; quoted from the entry on page 98 of the 2012 New Hartford Telephone Directory.
Lobelia Cardinalis (Cardinal flower) “is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows up to 1.2 m tall and is found in wet places, streambanks, and swamps…” Read more about this beautiful perennial see the Lobelia Cardinalis entry in Wikepedia.
Download a copy of the letter from Forestland Consultants detailing the town’s spraying program: Forestland Consultants (15).
Download a copy of the herbicide Prosescutor by Lesco label provided by the First Selectman’s Office: Prosecutor by Lesco (16).
Download a complete copy of the Prosecutor by Lesco label – 29 pages – which contains the following warning: “ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS: Do not apply directly to water, to areas where surface water is present or to intertidal areas below the high water mark. Do not contaminate water when disposing of equipment washwaters.” See page 2 of the complete label: Prosecutor complete label (13).
To learn more about the active ingredient Glyphosate, see the Glyphosate entry on Wikipedia.