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Ashford residents advised to be on the lookout for noxious plant

ASHFORD — Highway Superintendent Tim Engels warned those present at the July 10 Ashford Town Board meeting to be on the lookout for hogweed, which has been spotted inside the town.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, giant hogweed, or Heracleum mantegazzianum, is federally classified as a noxious plant. “Its sap, in combination with moisture and sunlight, can cause severe skin and eye irritation, painful blistering, permanent scarring and blindness,” the NYSDEC said, with the added warning to not touch the plant.

“This is a new, invasive species,” said Board Member John Pfeffer. “It’s nasty stuff.”

The DEC recommended that those who have come into contact with this plant immediately wash the affected area with soap and water and stay out of the sunlight for 48 hours. “This plant poses a serious health threat,” the department warned. “See your physician, if you think you have been burned by giant hogweed.”

According to Engels, the giant hogweed looks like a tall version of Queen Anne’s lace and has large leaves. “It causes terrible chemical burns,” he said.

The DEC identified the plant as being part of the carrot family. The giant hogweed can grow taller than 14 feet and bigger than 4 inches in diameter. The leaves can be as large as 5 feet wide. The plant often features large, white flowers.

Engels recommended that individuals who find this plant spray it with weed killers, rather than pulling it out of the ground. In addition, he asked that anyone who sees a hogweed plant in the area call the Ashford Highway Department at 942-3243.

For more information about the giant hogweed, visit

In other matters:
– The board welcomed new Assessor Dawn Martin. “Thank you for picking me,” Martin said. “I’m really excited to begin.”

– Paul Bembia, representing the West Valley Demonstration Project, reported that, while the presidential budget for 2014 originally included $64 million for the WVDP, the House of Representatives passed an initial bill, cutting that monetary amount to $47 million. Bembia said that this reduction would delay work on several projects.

Congressman Tom Reed worked with Congressman Brian Higgins to boost the monetary amount by $18 million. “I don’t know if it was fully reestablished,” Bembia said, “but hopefully it’s a good sign, for West Valley.”

– The town’s animal health inspector reported a few deficiencies at the local dog kennel. Town Supervisor Chris Gerwitz said that he will consult Ashford’s dog control officer about the issue. Town Clerk Patricia Dashnaw said that, if the issue is not resolved within 60 days, the town will be fined.

– Engels reported that, following an inspection of town gravel mine No. 1, the town was advised to clean up several rusted pipes that were stockpiled, inside the mine. He said that he will attempt to scrap the pipes.

– The board authorized Gerwitz and Engels to make a decision regarding obtaining new radios for the local constables.

– According to Engels, the town’s new Ford 550 has been obtained. He was authorized to dispose of the existing 2006 truck.

The next Ashford Town Board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 14.

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