The Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) will begin its annual brush-control program along Maine’s highways starting Tuesday, July 7th, according to statewide vegetation manager Bob Moosmann, who oversees the integrated roadside vegetation management program for the department.
“The program will be limited to three of the five MaineDOT Maintenance regions of the state. We will be spraying in Regions 2, 3 and 4; the western, central and Downeast portions of the state,” said Moosmann.
Controlling trees that encroach along roadsides maintains a safety clear zone that provides many benefits including increased visibility of animals along the roadside; improved sight distance at curves, hills, and road and driveway entrances; improved sunlight to the road surface; better drainage; and fewer deadly fixed objects along the roadside, creating a safer exit area in the event of unforeseen lane departures or accidents.
“Trees can reduce visibility along roadways and cause a reduction in the level of safety for drivers,” said Moosmann. “Removing trees in roadside areas requires regular maintenance. Spraying is just one of many options the department uses to control undesirable growth along roadsides.
“In recent years, there has been an increase in invasive plants in roadside areas. These plants can be may be controlled by mechanical mowing, brush cutting, or herbicides,” said Moosmann. “Some plants like wild parsnips are beginning to explode on the landscape,” Wild parsnip can cause a serious skin rash which is quite painful and can persist for months.
MaineDOT uses an integrated approach to controlling unwanted roadside vegetation. These methods include regular mowing, mechanical brush removal, brush cutting, tree removal, control of invasive species, and the use of herbicides. An integrated approach helps reduce the use of herbicides.
MaineDOT hires contractors to perform roadside brush-control spraying in each of its five regions. Each region reviews its roads to determine those to be sprayed.
“We have incorporated the use of GIS technologies to map, schedule, and track the roads sprayed. Our regions are now able to rotate, year to year, which roads are sprayed,” said Moosmann. “We have eliminated the need to spray each road every year. We have not done that since 2003. We have cut back the number of roads and the overall length of roads sprayed year to year,” said Moosmann. This year, MaineDOT will spray approximately 2,259 miles of state-maintained roads as compared to 3,380 miles of state-maintained roads sprayed in 2008.
MaineDOT researches all spray materials and chooses to use only those with the lowest environmental risks, as well as the lowest health risks for applicators. Spraying is done once a year along roadsides chosen for treatment. The materials used may include Garlon 4 (triclopyr), Krenite S (fosamine ammonium), or Escort XP (metsulfuron methyl). As part of its commitment to environmental and worker protection, MaineDOT uses the lowest rates possible for control of brush. “By using materials in combination, the rate of each material is lower and we still can control unwanted brush,” said Moosmann.
Only hardwood brush up to six feet in height and softwood brush up to three feet in height is sprayed along roadsides in Maine. “Oversized brush is removed by hand or by mechanized machines in all regions of the state,” said Moosmann.
Pesticide training is conducted each spring for employees and contractors who apply herbicides for MaineDOT. The department focuses on personal safety, proper use of products, environmental concerns, current technologies, and maintaining buffers from sensitive areas, as key elements in the ongoing training program.
MaineDOT maintains buffers to protect natural resources, water, livestock, pastures, gardens, and the public from exposure. Powered spraying is prohibited within 100 feet of wells and springs; 150 feet of parked vehicles; 100 feet of animal pastures; 150 feet of occupied buildings, homes, or playgrounds; 100 feet of organic farms, pedestrians, bicyclists, or picnic tables; or within the areas defined by MaineDOT No-Spray Agreements.
MaineDOT’s No-Spray Agreement program is available to landowners and municipalities living adjacent to state-maintained roads. Parties who participate agree to remove brush in respective safety clear zones adjacent to their properties in lieu of herbicide treatments.
For more information about the spray program, or to request a No-Spray Agreement contact your local MaineDOT Region Office:
- Region 1 (Scarborough) - P.O. Box 358; Scarborough, 04070-0358 885-7000
- Region 2 (Augusta) - 45 Commerce Drive; SHS #98; Augusta 04333-0098 624-8200
- Region 3 (Dixfield) - P.O. Box 817; Dixfield, 04224 562-4228
- Region 4 (Bangor) - P.O. Box 1208, 219 Hogan Road; Bangor, 04401-1208 941-4500
- Region 5 (Presque Isle) - P.O. Box 1178, Rice Street; Presque Isle, 04769 764-2060
To obtain further information on schedules for your community, please contact your MaineDOT Region Office. To locate your Region Office, please visit www.mainedot.gov, or call MaineDOT headquarters at 207-624-3000. Technical information is also available from the MaineDOT Bureau of Maintenance and Operations in Augusta by calling 624-3600.
(Editors: A list of towns to be sprayed in 2009 is below for your reference.)
- Region 2: Albion, Appleton, Augusta, Belfast, Belgrade, Belmont, Benton, Brooks, Burnham, Camden, China, Clinton, Fairfield, Frankfort, Freedom, Hope, Jackson, Knox, Liberty, Lincolnville, Manchester, Monroe, Montville, Morrill, Mount Vernon, Northport, Oakland, Palermo, Prospect, Readfield, Rome, Searsmont, Searsport, Sidney, Somerville, Swanville, Thorndike, Troy, Union, Unity, Unity Twp, Vassalboro, Waldo, Washington, Waterville, Windsor, Winslow, Winterport
- Region 3: Adamstown Twp, Albany Twp, Alder Stream Twp, Andover, Anson, Athens, Avon, Beaver Cove, Bethel, Big Moose Twp, Bingham, Brighton Plt, Buckfield, Byron, Cambridge, Canaan, Canton, Caratunk, Carrabassett Valley, Carthage, Chain of Ponds Twp, Chesterville, Coburn Gore, Concord Twp, Coplin Plt, Cornville, Cove Point Twp, Dallas Plt, Dead River Twp, Dennistown Plt, Dixfield, Embden, Eustis, Farmington, Fayette, Freeman Twp, Frenchtown Twp, Grafton, Greenville, Greenwood, Hanover, Harmony, Hartford, Hartland, Hebron, Highland Plt, Industry, Jackman, Jay, Jim Pond Twp, Johnson Mtn. Twp, Kingfield, Kingsbury Plt, Lang Twp, Lexington Twp, Lily Bay Twp, Lincoln Plt, Livermore, Livermore Falls, Lower Cupsuptic Twp, Madison, Madrid Twp, Magalloway Plt, Mayfield Twp, Mercer, Mexico, Misery Gore Twp, Moose River, Moosehead Junction Twp, Moscow, New Portland, New Sharon, New Vineyard, Newry, Norridgewock, Norway, Paris, Parlin Pond Twp, Perkins Twp, Peru, Phillips, Rangeley, Rangeley Plt, Ripley, Rockwood Strip T1 R1 NBKP, Roxbury, Rumford, Saint Albans, Salem Twp, Sandwich Academy Grant Twp, Sandy Bay Twp, Sandy River Plt, Sapling Twp, Skowhegan, Smithfield, Solon, Starks, Strong, Sumner, T1 R13 WELS, Taunton & Raynham Academy Grant, Temple, The Forks Plt, Township D, Township E, Turner, Upton, Vienna, Washington Twp, Weld, Wellington, West Forks Plt, West Paris, Wilton, Woodstock, Wyman Twp
- Region 4: Abbot, Alton, Argyle Twp, Atkinson, Bangor, Barnard Twp, Blanchard Twp, Bowerbank, Bradford, Brownville, Carmel, Charleston, Corinna, Corinth, Detroit, Dexter, Dixmont, Dover-Foxcroft, Ebeemee Twp, Edinburg, Etna, Exeter, Garland, Glenburn, Guilford, Hampden, Hermon, Howland, Hudson, Kenduskeag, Lagrange, Levant, Mattamiscontis Twp, Maxfield, Medford, Milo, Monson, Newburgh, Newport, Old Town, Orneville Twp, Palmyra, Parkman, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Sangerville, Sebec, Seboeis Plt, Shirley, Stetson, Williamsburg Twp, Willimantic
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