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Wild parsnip an issue along the Luce Line Trail

To the Editor:
County trails should not just be built and abandoned. Timely attention is needed to maintain safety. Even though the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has too many paved trails to keep up with, McLeod County does not deserve trails that are unsafe.
My family is proud to work a farm that has been handed down for over 100 years. The Luce Line Trail cuts through our farm and we know this land very well. Last summer, I discovered wild parsnip along the trail. This eye-catching, non-native weed originally came from Europe and Asia. It is actually very dangerous. A year ago, I called the DNR and county to come out and treat the area along the Luce Line Trail that was infected. I expected to hear a thank you and that they would be out soon to cut or spray these nasty weeds. Instead, I was told they would only come out in the fall and we would have to wait. They never did show up and the weeds seeded out.
People need to know about this problem and why it is so dangerous. Plant experts are warning families about wild parsnip and to stay away. The sap on these weeds easily transfers onto your skin and then reacts with ultraviolet light from the sun. According to county conservation officials, this sap upon the skin causes blisters, boils and lots of scarring.
Because the DNR did not come out to treat these weeds right away, they are spreading more this year. Next year, they will spread out further and be even more of a danger. The Pigeon Lake area in Meeker County on Highway 15 by Dassel has a wild parsnip problem that is badly infested. Now they are fighting to get it under control.
Thankfully, not a lot of people use the trail, but a few more are using it in the summer. When school starts, it will die down again and there won’t be enough people or kids around to worry about until next summer.
In the meantime, keep your kids away from touching these nasty plants. You should review pictures of these plants with the small yellow flowers. Read more at http://minnesotacbslocal.com/2016/07/27/
Hopefully, the DNR will reconsider the interest of public safety and come out to perform this basic trail maintenance right away.
Dean Dostal
Hutchinson Township