Citizen Scientist Front: Preliminary Weed Mitigation Results Positive!

FSPW Wilderness Stewards are seeing promising advancements this summer in the noxious weed abatement efforts of the Treasured Landscapes Campaign.   This is Phase 2 of a sizable, 3-Phase Restoration project aimed at mitigating threats to the pristine nature of the Lightning Creek Drainage Complex, and subsequently much of our proposed wilderness area.  The Lightning Creek Drainage was chosen over 100’s of other locations due to our incredible local volunteer base and outstanding community of concerned citizen scientists.  A part of a greater, pioneering movement toward wilderness stewardship by local communities, the Friends of Scotchman Peak Wilderness get it done, and our work has received national recognition under this recent Treasured Landscapes award.

This 2014 season, it is inspiring to see our work’s fruition.

WW3A little background on what we accomplished in 2013:  approximately 20 volunteers teamed up and hit the trail to perform invasive weed surveys on 8 recreational trails in the proposed wilderness.  We covered nearly 50 miles of trail, and found several species of noxious weeds and some large infestation areas.  This data was sent to the Rangeland and Weeds Specialists at the USFS Idaho Panhandle National Forest.

In the spring of 2014, local weed expert and self-proclaimed weed annihilator Kenneth Thacker was awarded the contract for chemical treatment of the areas FSPW volunteers documented in 2013.  This is quite a task for one person, even if it is someone as capable as Mr. Thacker, so our volunteers are back on the trails this summer for Treatment Efficiency Reconnaissance.  So far, FSPW Volunteer Wilderness Stewards have ‘reconned’ over 40 miles of trail.  Thanks to all our volunteers who are stewarding their trails again this year. Their discoveries this year point toward marked improvement in weed population infestations compared with pre-treatment status.  As Citizen Scientist Molly O’Reilly’s post-survey remarks illuminate:

“Gail Bolin and I wanted to say how positively different the old roadbed is this year after Ken Thacker’s careful WW2weed treatment! We saw a lot of dying weeds and new growth in natives. Ken seemed to have missed the natives in his treatment, which takes a lot of skill and care. This trail had been dispiritedly weed infested in 2013, and now is quite pleasant to walk.

 With very few exceptions, we noted weed infestations as “sparse.” The target plants are often rhizominous and have deep and complex root systems.

 We very much hope that there will be funding for repeat treatments in each of the next few years as it looks to us like that will really get rid of the noxious invasives on this trail.”

Thanks to returning volunteers and Weed Warriors Molly O’Reilly, Gail Bolin, Fred Gaudet, Jim DuBisson, and Derrek Antonelli, as well as Treasured Landscape newcomers Jenn Vanvolkenburg, Becky Renolds, Shane Sater, Celeste Grace and Mary Franzel.  Your work has been a great help to Ken, our wilderness and wildlife ecology, and local wilderness recreators.  It is amazing to see what we can accomplish when we all pull together for a common goal!!

Over the next two months, work will occur in Phase 2 of our White Pine Headwater Forest and Stream Stabilization restoration projects as well.  Stayed tune for further results in 2014’s Treasured Landscapes progress!

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