For work done with/for the City of Atlanta, Trees Atlanta works within industry Best Management Practices (BMP).
For herbicide use, Trees Atlanta works within requirements set by the Georgia Department of Agriculture (the state regulatory body), and the federal EPA (the federal regulatory body). Trees Atlanta maintains a state contractor’s license for pesticide application, and has four state-licensed applicators. All herbicide products have an EPA-mandated label with the legal parameters for its use — Trees Atlanta follows those parameters, which include how close the product can be applied to surface water.
Use of herbicide near waterways is subject to buffer regulation. Trees Atlanta has worked with the city’s Watershed Protection department and numerous landscape architects, engineers, and other contractors, in order to arrive at a general BMP. The BMP provides that there should be no soil disturbance within the buffer—therefore, invasive material should not be manually pulled from the buffer. Cut and treat of stumps or simple foliar spraying with herbicide are the only activities allowable in the buffer for invasive removal, provided that the herbicides used (per EPA labeling) are approved for use near surface water.
The intent of the buffer regulation is to reduce soil erosion and sedimentation along stream banks. Preservation of healthy vegetation serves the purpose of the buffer regulation, but preservation of an invaded streambank ultimately results in greater tree loss. Removal efforts in the buffer should be paired with replanting efforts, should the area prove incapable of revegetating naturally.
Using the buffer regulation to argue for the preservation of kudzu, English ivy, and privet is a gross misinterpretation of the spirit of the regulation.
With thanks to Brian Williams, Urban Forestry Director of Trees Atlanta, for the above explanation.