Critters tear up soccer season 0
STEPHEN UHLER firstname.lastname@example.org Soccer field #2 shows some of the damage it sustained after being dug up by animals, which were seeking to make a meal of the grubs which are infesting it.
A grub infestation has forced Pembroke's operations department to close two of Riverside Park's soccer pitches for the summer.
The pitches, located at the far eastern side of the park, closest to Miramichi Lodge, have been damaged by both the action of the grubs eating the roots of the grass, which kills it, plus the turf itself is being ripped up by birds, skunks and other animals as they look to make a meal out of the grubs.
Doug Sitland, the city's operations manager, told the recreation committee Tuesday damage had been noticed in the fall of 2011, but it wasn't serious enough to significantly impact the public enjoyment of those lands.
This year is a different story.
"In 2012, damage from grubs appears to be more widespread," he said, causing significant damage to soccer fields one and two.
"Several large areas of turf have been destroyed."
Mr. Sitland said there is nothing they can do now as the damage has been done. He did suggest spraying in the fall as the best way to prevent the repeat of the life cycle of the grubs, and spare the fields for the following spring.
In the meantime, the most reasonable and cost effective way to repair these fields is to wait until the damage has been done, and then proceed with top soiling, seeding and fertilization. To encourage turf growth, the areas will have to be fenced off and will not be able to be used for soccer play.
"It is not likely they will be open for the 2012 season," Mr. Sitland said.
The two soccer fields each have three cross field soccer pitches for younger players, and are heavily used during the soccer season.
Coun. Terry O'Neill said he understands why the two fields have to be closed off, but wondered how this will affect the local soccer organizations. He suggested the city sit down with them to see if they can work out ways to reschedule their activities so no one misses out on their soccer play.
Susan Ellis, the economic development, recreation and tourism manager, said the recreation department is notifying all user groups about this closure, so they will have time to work around it.
Mr. Sitland said there is also the chance to move, at least for this season, the goal posts and nets off of the affected fields and set them up on others which remain open for use. This is something which will also be discussed with the soccer groups.
For the past several years, the city has adopted an Integrated Pest Management Policy which eliminates the non-essential use of pesticides on city-owned lands. Last April, the province, through legislation, made changes to the list of acceptable, natural products which could be used for pest control.
Mr. Sitland said it is unknown at this time if this increase in the grub population will translate into an increased beetle (June, European Chafer, Japanese) population, with all the associated risks and damages.
Spraying for the grubs this fall is expected to cost around $3,000, which will come out of the operations and maintenance budget.
Stephen Uhler is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist