Yesterday, as I was exploring the gravel back roads of our little community in the Uwharries, I was excited to run across a stand of native Narrow-leaf Mountain Mint growing in the power line right-of-way beside the woods. I was excited because I had never seen it growing locally, except for the transplants I have in my beds, that I was given by a friend who lives about an hour away.
This morning, before 8:00 am, I was awoken by Cindy yelling for me to look out the window. Two pickup trucks were slowly making their way down our lane, tanks on the back, followed by two men with backpack sprayers walking along the roadside.
They suddenly jumped onto the back of one of the trucks and sped past our house, further down the lane, not spraying immediately in front of our home (thankfully, we have beehives).
I quickly dressed, discussed the incident with Cindy, then got in my car and drove in the same direction they had gone.
I caught up with them on the next gravel lane over. When I pulled up alongside one of the trucks I didn't have to say a word because the driver immediately started telling me they were spraying along the power lines. I asked him what they were spraying. He misunderstood and replied, "just along the sides under the power lines.""
I restated my question to "what CHEMICAL are you spraying?"
"Roundup," he replied.
Cindy and I have spent the past several seasons watching the native flowers grow, excited to find some we'd never found locally before. Saw Indian Pink this year for the first time here, enjoying the Green and Gold, Joe-Pye, Butterfly Weed and others.
We were somewhat concerned when Randolph Electric contractors came through during the winter, grinding and chewing up the same rights-of-way that are now being sprayed. My take on it was that it would bring up seeds from below the surface that may have been laying dormant for years.
Sadly, they had already sprayed the area where I discovered the Mountain Mint, just yesterday.
I'm really sad as I write this. These small native gems, that will never ever grow tall enough to impede the electricity, are being sacrificed.
It seems to me, if they can walk along the right-of-way and indiscriminately spray to kill everything in sight, why can't they just as easily trade the backpack sprayers for Swedish axes and just target the small tree saplings that would grow into the lines in future years.
Will the invasive Paulowinia that has been growing back every year near the Mountain Mint succumb to the spray?
I have my doubts.
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