After researching invasive species in general and Japanese knotweed in particular this past semester, I have gotten up the courage to jump in with both feet. I attended and presented at a 2-day knotweed conference at Cornell University in October of 2006, and have been in contact with various researchers and professionals working on this "knotty" problem. One scientist, Jennifer Forman-Orth, has an ongoing citizen-science project called "Life on the Japanese Knotweed." It is a collection by both professionals and amateurs alike, photo-journaling insects and other life-forms living in and around Japanese knotweed: http://www.flickr.com/groups/lifeontheknotweed/
One example is this shot, of ants taking advantage of nectar found on the stem of the plant. Once the ants are attracted to this spot, they defend their nectar-source like junkyard dogs, often chasing potential herbivores who are on their way to munch the leaves waving above the ants.
Beginning in May of 2007, the Black River Action Team (BRAT) is conducting an all-out experiment with a demonstration site of Japanese knotweed in Springfield, VT. After mapping and measuring and taping off the site, we have begun to work it. The goal is for a 3-5 year regime of non-chemical methods to be implemented as a way of trying new techniques and combinations of techniques, and (more importantly) to draw landowners into the issue. If people know what it is and why we are trying to weaken it, they might be willing to lend us a hand at the site and perhaps even make some attempts on their own property.
In the meantime, this demo site is being funded partly through a small grant from the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund (NEGEF) for the BRAT's WaterWorx environmental education program. Involving landowners is just the beginning; I am forming relationships with various youth groups in town as a means of connecting young people to their community through nature and physical effort. Working the demo site is a great way to gain a wider perspective, perhaps even a paradigm shift; it is my personal experience that being part of something larger than yourself makes you a better person.
The Clean & Clear Water Program is also providing funding for the demo site; funds from this program are being managed by the Town of Springfield and the NEGEF funding is being handled by my umbrella organization, the Connecticut River Watershed Council.
The demo site is located on Route 11 in Springfield, VT across the street from Riverside Middle School. If you are interested in a visit or in participating, please drop me an email to say hello and make inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org.