Lanternfly Infestation & Eagle Scout Project Take Center Stage at Oradell Borough Council

In a recent congregation of the Oradell Borough Council, an Eagle Scout’s environmental initiative and a report on the invasive spotted lanternfly were the main topics of discussion.

Mr. Matthew Bickerton, an entomologist from Bergen County, briefed the council on the spotted lanternfly infestation. He traced the origins and proliferation of the insect, spotlighting its arrival in Bergen County in 2021 and the subsequent population explosion in 2022. While Bickerton emphasized, “these insects are not harmful to people. They don’t bite,” he elucidated their affinity for the invasive tree of heaven and outlined various control measures.

“The public has been panicking about these things,” Bickerton remarked, recounting residents’ utilization of dish soap and vinegar as control measures and cautioning against the latter due to its herbicidal nature. He underscored the impracticality of scraping egg masses and illuminated the discontinuation of a specific insecticide in New Jersey, spotlighting its detrimental impact on pollinators.

The bugs were largely deemed a nuisance, with significant impacts on vineyards but less so on other agricultural commodities. The council discussed the lanternflies’ feeding patterns, natural predators, and the unlikelihood of eradicating them entirely. The population boom and subsequent decline of lanternflies in different regions were also discussed. There was mention of a state grant for controlling lanternflies, with some towns reportedly applying, but there was confusion about the process. The council highlighted that lanternflies are not harmful to pets and are continuing to spread, and that controlling them might not be worth it unless there is a serious nuisance problem.

Student Connor Olson captured the Council’s attention with his Eagle Scout project, aiming to refurbish a trail in the Lotus Woods. Focused on augmenting accessibility while preserving the environmental integrity of the area, Connor’s well-articulated proposal delineated plans to reapply gravel, trim overgrown vegetation, and refresh trail signs without disturbing local water bodies. An offical in the meeting assuaged any rising concerns about potential impacts on environmental grants and alignment with future plans for the area.

Separately, Mayor Dianne C. Didio recognized September as Hunger Action and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

The Council also acknowledged a 20% increase in insurance costs for 2024 and deliberated on efforts to mitigate medication costs.

A proposal for a little library near the train station, presented by Katherine Norian from the Rotary Club, received a favorable response from the Council. Plans for updating the caucus room into an OEM command center and other capital improvement projects were also discussed, with public comments highlighting concerns about the condition of Kinderkamack Road and the need for ongoing maintenance.

Veterans Day plans, consolidation of voting locations, and strategies to inform residents about changes were also explored. Sean Banfield introduced a new local organization focusing on engaging younger residents and combating national trends of isolation.

In conclusion, while the Council covered a broad spectrum of topics, it was the enthusiasm of a young Eagle Scout and the discourse on an invasive insect that dominated the conversation.

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