Alien infestation: Residents annoyed

The flowering Pampass grass at the Garden Route dam, George's main water supply, has incensed Eugene Knottenbelt who feels the George Municipality should be setting an example to other landowners and eradicate them in an environmentally friendly way. Photo: Pauline Lourens

GEORGE NEWS - A concerned ratepayer, Eugene Knottenbelt, again lambasted the George Municipality for seemingly failing to tackle the alien infestation around the Garden Route dam which is overgrown with black wattle and Pampass grass, the latter of which are very visible this time of the year.
This follows on the comments by the municipality given in response to another concerned citizen, Jean Foster's letter, "Help, please would someone help!" in which she expressed dismay at the proliferation of this alien grass.
A recent visit to the dam by a George Herald journalist confirmed that the flowering Pampass grass is visible as far as the eye can see.
An overturned refuse bin was noted alongside the access road. When asked what the George Municipality is doing to exercise thorough land management, Chantel Edwards-Klose, Municipal spokesperson, replied: "George Municipality confirms that on council property there has been a success in terms of the eradication of invasive aliens with much fewer plants noted than in 2005. It is again noted that all landowners are responsible for the alien species on their properties. No further comment on this subject will be provided."
This reply clearly did not sit well with Knottenbelt, who said, "There is no evidence that this is being done. There is even a bush growing on the water side slope of the dam wall. As for the broad statement that the refuse bins are cleaned every Tuesday and Thursday, I can vouch this is not being done. The overturned bin has been like that for weeks now. There are many, many people who daily visit the garden Route dam area just hiking, walking their dogs, running and cycling who will attest to this. We have been there before.
"I further query the source of the comment, 'No further comment on this subject will be provided'. Is this the official response from the municipality? It would appear that there are officials who are clearly unaware of the issues at stake and make statements without verifying the facts.
The municipality is answerable to the ratepayers and the queries raised are both reasonable and legitimate and have been raised and continue to be raised by many other concerned residents. My offer to accompany any persons on a quick walk/ride down to the dam wall to witness these issues stands."
Knottenbelt raised the issue a year ago with the same reassurances given that the necessary steps are being taken to eradicate alien plants. Currently, the whole of the area on the eastern side of George adjoining the Garden Route dam which, until the great fire, was once pine plantations, is covered with outbreaks of Pampas grass.
"The access road to the dam is now termed Pampas Avenue by some," said Knottenbelt.
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