The city of Bloomington has hired two full-time employees to manage the increasing problem of invasive vegetation. Dave Williams, the operations director for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, made the announcement last week before the Board of Parks Commissioners.
“This has become a huge issue for any land-holding agency as well as private property owners,” Williams said. “It’s become a challenge for us to restore the natural habitat in areas like Lower Cascades Park, Griffy Lake…and neighborhood parks.”
Jon Behrman has been hired full time to oversee native vegetation management and native planting initiatives. A second position filled by Haskell Smith will expressly work to combat invasive plant species.
“The latest and greatest pest is the emerald ash borer,” Williams said. “What we find ourselves doing is getting more into the (tree) removal business than the planting business. We have long since walked away from our ability to do much more than occasional contractual pruning of trees, which over the life of the tree, if you do it young, can save you tons of dollars.”
The Board praised the hires. Williams said climate change will continue to necessitate management of invasive vegetation.
“The (emerald ash borer) isn’t the end of it,” Williams said. “There are other potential threats to maple trees…There will always be something to fight and combat and control.”
Also at the meeting the board approved ongoing partnerships between the City of Bloomington and the Indiana University School of Public Health.