Use of Herbicides on Open Space Property

Old Lyme Open Space Herbicide Use Policy

 In 2019, the Old Lyme Open Space Commission (OLOSC) set a policy of no glyphosate use on town open space lands. This was out of an abundance of caution regarding potential unintended effects of chemicals on the ecosystem. Based on further research by an herbicide working group of the OLOSC, the policy was amended herewith.

On a case-by-case basis, OLOSC will evaluate whether judicious use of herbicidal products may be warranted in some instances, to ensure the continued health and viability of the town’s natural lands and to protect the ecosystems that support native and migratory wildlife.

While it is still the intent of the OLOSC to remain cautious when considering chemical methods for managing detrimental and/or invasive plant species, there is now a large body of evidence to support the benefits of judicious use of herbicides in managing natural lands. Additionally, many well-respected environmental organizations, as well as state and federal environmental agencies have authorized the use of certain herbicides and employ these products successfully on protected lands.

Impacts to ecosystems where invasive plant species are dominating the land and water resources are well-documented. Without a diversity of food and shelter, many birds and animals will not survive. Their populations will decline, and/or they will migrate elsewhere in search of the conditions they require. Where phragmites australis has established, colonies of this aquatic invasive will expand rapidly, and fill in waterbodies, shrinking, or sometimes engulfing them entirely to the point where there are no longer sufficient water levels to support an aquatic ecosystem.

The evidence to support careful use of herbicides falls mainly into two categories:  1) scientific studies that assess the impact of herbicidal products on non-target plants, animals and soil and water quality; and 2) the magnitude of the benefit achieved, compared to other methods, or the “no action” alternative.

Of the organizations and agencies that are using certain herbicidal products, OLOSC has reached out to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and consulted CT State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) staff regarding their policies and experience with use of permitted herbicides. Both of these organizations deem the permitted herbicides they use to be safe and effective and can point to many examples where ecosystems have been rescued. Based on this information gathering, the OLOSC voted in September 2022 to update the commission’s policy to permit judicious use of permitted herbicidal products on a case-by-case basis.

Approved July 12, 2019
Revised July 31, 2019
Revised September 14, 2022