bamboo

Whenever people hear about invasive species, plants are probably the last thing that spring to mind, but as it turns out, bamboo is one such example. The matter popped up during both this month’s and last month’s meeting of Westmoreland County’s Board of Supervisors meeting, when the Board drew up an ordinance regarding the regulation of running bamboo. In this case, Running Bamboo is any sort of tropical grass with roots that spread aggressively.

According to the Board, the planting and growing of running bamboo in the county has been quite destructive to structures, walkways, and the natural environment. Not just on the property where it initially grew, but surrounding properties as well. It’s because of this that the county felt the need to regulate the planting or growing of running bamboo. By and large, enforcement is on the basis of complaints being registered from the neighbors.

The provisions of the passed ordinance sound simple enough. Landowners are required to install or utilize containment measures to stop the spread of running bamboo onto other property lots or close to a public right-of-way. Landowners won’t be required to install or implement a containment measure to prevent the spread if they did not plant the running bamboo or cause it to be planted or grown on their property. They also have to have proof that after they discovered the running bamboo (assuming it spread onto their property), they advised the owner of the neighboring property, and have initiated steps for the removal of the bamboo.

Penalties in this case can include a $50 fine for a first offense and up to a $200 fine for the next one. Ultimately, penalties top out at $3,000 if the matter has not been dealt with over the course of a year.

At the public hearing, County Administrator Norm Risavi brought forth several emails from citizens. Pam Promisel was one of the folks, and she asked that a period of time be given, at least six months, before the regulation was enforced.

“We currently own over 13 acres with significant road frontage with very mature and large bamboo growth that exited when we acquired the property,” she explained in her email, “Clearing a 10-foot buffer along this road will not only be costly, but finding a contractor that is willing to do this and available given the huge building backlog currently in the area will take some significant time and effort. We had significant issues finding a contractor interested in clearing the bamboo from our driveway.”

Karen Sullivan, a resident of Colonial Beach with a background in marine and environmental science, also spoke before the Board, noting that “Invasive species are an incredible problem to our natural environment, and I would support any measure to control them, including bamboo.”

Once the comments were done, passage was quick and unanimous, though no word was given on when enforcement would start.