the plants we don’t want and allow room for the plants we do,”
Frost, who has spent decades growing food organically,
agreed that when it comes to invasive species in the forests, herbicide application can play a role. “It’s the only real viable option
of any scale,” he said.
In 1999, Vegetation Control Services was contracted by the
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to eradicate a
multitude of invasive plants from several sites the agency managed. One area, in Leyden, was overrun with multiflora rose, a
shrub originally from Japan that was introduced to the United
States during the nineteenth century. For decades, it was used as a
living fence for livestock, but the Natural Resource Conservation
Service (NRCS) now categorizes it as a noxious weed because of its
tendency to take over the landscape and choke out native plants.
The parcel Taylor and his colleagues were charged with clearing was a popular hunting site where pheasants were released
every year. But the multiflora rose had grown so thick and thorny
that hunting dogs couldn’t get through it. In fact, nothing could.
When the team from Vegetation Control Services arrived at the
site, they had to spray the massive plants from a truck because
they could not get close enough to the center of the thickets on
foot. Taylor reports that the area is now a mixture of low-growing
shrubs and grasses, easily navigated by dogs and hunters alike.
The contract with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries
and Wildlife was the beginning of a new kind of work for Taylor
and his coworkers – not just to control particular invasives, but
to reclaim entire landscapes. Soon, the company had contracts
with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state and local
government agencies and municipalities, all grappling with the
problem of invasive species.
Even more interesting, said Taylor, has been working with
organizations that were once among the biggest critics of herbicide
use, such as the Audubon Society. With the New Hampshire and
Maine chapters of the organization, he has worked on projects like
the mowing of brush followed by selective foliar-herbicide applica-
tions to invasive plants. The shift in clientele has been a pleasure
for Taylor. “I enjoy working with groups and organizations that
have a long-term vision of how to manage the land,” he said.
After more than four decades in the business, Taylor is now
semi-retired but continues to be active in his field. In addition
to his work for Vegetation Control Services, he is a member
of the New Hampshire Invasive Species Committee and the
New Hampshire Board of Pesticide Control, and serves as the
chairman of the local conservation commission. “He doesn’t
stop,” noted Frost. “That is the hallmark of someone who is a
professional. Someone who approaches everything they do in a
professional manner and is always trying to do a better job.”
Along with running the family Christmas-tree farm, he and
his wife enjoying fishing together and taking trips to visit their
five children and seven grandchildren. As they travel, Taylor
can’t help but point out invasive plants to his wife or even detour
to check up on sites he has treated. “He’s very passionate about
it, so he makes it interesting,” said Susan, who worked as the
bookkeeper for Vegetation Control Services for many years.
In his many years of evaluating sites and selecting the best
methods for control, Taylor admitted that there have been a few
tracts of land he considered unsalvageable – parcels so choked
with invasives that the best one could hope for was containment.
But such cases are rare, and Taylor is optimistic about the
future. He loves to visit the pristine forests of far northern New
England that remain largely untouched by invasives. They are a
reminder of what once covered all of New England, and what
may again. “It gives me inspiration,” he said.
Carolyn Lorié lives with her two rescue dogs and very large cat in Thetford, Vermont.
Wagner Forest Management, Ltd., is pleased to underwrite Northern Woodlands’ series
on forest entrepreneurs. www.wagnerforest.com
Jeff Taylor makes an herbicide application to Japanese knotweed at the Mink Brook Nature Preserve in New Hampshire.