State Legislators Approve Planting Restrictions For ‘Running’ Bamboo

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Activists in Connecticut pushing for restrictions on how “running” bamboo is planted today praised legislation that has cleared both the state House and Senate.

“We are thrilled beyond belief,” Terri Groff, a field researcher in Preston, who has documented nearly 130 properties in New London County overrun with spreading bamboo, told me today. “You can’t plant something in the ground and think that’s the end of it.”

The bill is now headed to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for his signature. If signed, the legislation would take effect Oct. 1. The legislation does not contain a retroactive provision for existing infestations.

“This is a plant that dominates the environment,” said State Rep. Theresa Conroy, D-Seymour, who proposed the bill. “In almost no time, a property can be covered with running bamboo — it will grow under driveways and concrete slabs. It will devastate a property if left untended.”

A stand of invasive bamboo. Photo Courtesy of the Connecticut Green Industries Council.

A stand of invasive bamboo. Photo Courtesy of the Connecticut Green Industries Council.

Backed by the House late Thursday and the Senate last week, the legislation prohibits property owners from planting running bamboo within 100 feet of neighboring property lines, unless it is properly contained. Barriers, either sunk in the ground or above-ground containers, must restrict the bamboo’s roots from spreading

Nurseries and landscapers must educate buyers of running bamboo on the potential that the plant could spread quickly and the requirements of the law.

Both provisions carry $100 fines for violations. For property owners, each day is considered a new violation. Sellers would be fined for each plant sold.

In addition, property owners that allow “running” bamboo to spread to neighboring properties must bear the cost of getting rid of the bamboo. Remediation can run into the thousands of dollars, and possibly more, for heavy infestations.

Enforcement would be by local communities.

Read my story here about the controversy over the planting of “running” bamboo in Connecticut.

The bamboo targeted by the legislation¬† is primarily in the Phyllostachys genus, particularly yellow-groove bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata). The legislation does not affect slower-growing “clumping” bamboo.

Bob Heffernan, executive director of the state industry group representing landscapers, nurseries and florists, said the group supports the measure and was involved in writing the legislation.

For two years, we’ve asked our plant retailers and landscapers to educate customers about the proper handling of running bamboo, which the bill will now require by law,” Heffernan, who heads the Connecticut Green Industries Council, told me today in an e-mail. “So we’re way ahead of that.”

Heffernan said the new law also will reinforce what already is in state law.

“Property owner have to take care that their plants and trees are well cared for and do not infringe on their neighbors,” Heffernan wrote.

Groff said bamboo has become a popular way to screen backyards from neighbors.

“You can’t plant bamboo as a fence,” Groff said. “It’s the most expensive mistake you could make in your life.”

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2 thoughts on “State Legislators Approve Planting Restrictions For ‘Running’ Bamboo

  1. Carol Merritt

    Good for Connecticut. Let’s hope the other states will soon follow suit. A home will probably be the biggest asset most people will acquire in their lifetime. A neighbor should not be allowed to destroy it whether knowledgeable of this plant or not. Great job Connecticut!

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