Friday, October 15, 2010

Weed Be Gone

On October 9th we hosted our first annual weed pull
contest in partnership with Montana Conservation Corps. Over 30 folks braved the cold and rain to help eradicate canada thistle, spotted knapweed, and houndstongue. After a brief overview of the why, how, and what of weed eradication, the volunteers split into teams and headed to the field. The race was on as teams competed to see who could pull the most weeds by weight before eleven AM. We had a very successful morning. The rain actually made the weeds much easier to pull, though we ended up quite muddy in the process. Combined, the volunteers pulled 1,142 pounds of weeds! We also gave out two special prizes to individuals that pulled the longest intact root out of the ground. These went to a 28" first place root, and a 15" second place root. Thanks to all who braved the cold and rain to help us clean up the ACEC!

Our history as a gravel mine has resulted in a number of invasive weeds on the property, not just the three that we attacked on Saturday. They are considered noxious, invasive weeds because they are able to outcompete native plants and take over a landscape. In a short period of time they can replace native grasses and other vegetation. We are beginning an aggressive weed management plan that will combine mechanical methods such as hand pulling with chemical methods for some of the more difficult plants. It is also possible to remove weeds by burning them, grazing sheep/goats in infected areas, or mowing. We are unable to employ these methods at our site due to the large number of natives that have already been planted and the extensive irrigation system on our property.

Saturday was so much fun that we plan to continue the tradition of weed pull contests in the spring, and will make it a bi-annual event! Join us next time for some friendly competition and great prizes, not the least of which is the sense of satisfaction for doing something to help the natural world that surrounds and sustains us.

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