The Newtown Conservation Commission is planning a new offensive in its war against invasive plant species in town, specifically targeting Japanese barberry.
Commission members said the town will spend $20,000 to support their "Barberry Blitz" campaign, aimed at removing the nuisance plant from along walking trails on town-owned open space.
Town residents might soon see a banner on Edmund Town Hall announcing the Barberry Blitz removal program. After a time, the banner will be moved to a fence along Wasserman Way on the theory that moving it around to different locations will attract more attention over time than leaving it in the same place.
Japanese barberry is a decorative shrub sold by commercial nurseries for landscaping purposes. But like many other domesticated natural species, it has become a nuisance by spreading to the wilds and woods where it out-competes the natural plants. It also provides habitat and nourishment for mice and deer, and that increases the tick population and spreads Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
Barberry is not the only . Another is the mile-a-minute vine, which grows so fast that some people claim they could actually see it spread.
State officials released weevil bugs in Newtown that have an appetite for mile-a-minute vines. Commission Chairman Mary Gaudet-Wilson said the weevils appear to have survived the recent winter, but they have not been as successful as hoped at controlling the invasive vine.
The town recently sent out batches of letters to local property owners offering to help them identify invasive plants and offering advice on how to eliminate them. Two batches of 50 letters each were mailed so far.
Conservation Commission members are even willing to make personal visits to private property if owners need help identifying them.