FSPW Volunteers Ken Thacker and Bonnie Jakubos teamed up recently to produce a simplified and area-specific weed guide for use in the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness as well as in the neighboring Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. The Guide, which was produced with funding from the Norcross Wildlife Foundation (www.norcrosswildlife.org), features 21 invasive weeds that are known to be in or nearby the Scotchmans and Cabinets.
The guide was developed to help hikers in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness and Scotchman Peaks Proposed Wilderness identify and report invasive weeds. It was purposely kept simple, specific and local. Reporting information, including phone numbers and addresses, is on the back cover.
The weed species included are known to be in these areas or nearby as of 2015.
Early detection of invasive weeds is critical to their control and having more informed eyes on the ground helps accomplish this. These plant descriptions, though not definitive, are very helpful. Department of Agriculture websites for Idaho (www.agri.state.id.us) and Montana (www.agr.mt.gov) have much more information about weeds.
Impacts of weeds on Wilderness and wildlife
Invasive weeds have many environmental impacts, and also affects wilderness values. Weeds are in Wilderness almost entirely because of humans. The Wilderness Act of 1964 defined Wilderness as an area that “retains its primeval character and influence . . and natural condition” with “the imprint of man’s work being substantially unnoticeable.” Spread of non-native plants impacts these conditions.
Invasive weeds affect wildlife in a direct way by crowding out native plants animals depend on for survival. Nearly all plants listed in this guide are inedible by any species living in the Scotchman Peaks or Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.
A few words about weed control
All big nasty weed infestations start out small. If someone like you finds them early they may not get out of hand. Quick action on newly-found weed patches can avoid large environmental impacts and the need for massive, expensive weed control work in the future.
What can be done by a few motivated individuals? The answer to this depends on which weeds you find, how many there are and whether or not you are willing to donate part of your day to help take care of our wild areas.
Hand-pulling works best on weeds that are biennial or do not spread rapidly by roots and are not in seed. With any weed control work, the immediate goal is to stop seed production for the year, but if there are mature seeds on the plants leave them alone.
• Gloves should be used for hand pulling if possible.
• For large infestations hand work will consume your day, so map and report the location.
• For small infestations of houndstongue, knapweed, tansy, and alyssum hand-pulling can be a very effective first control step.
• For small infestations of Canada thistle, the hawkweeds, oxeye daisy, skeletonweed, the toadflaxes and St. Johnswort hand-pulling or beheading of the flower stalks only will slow weed spread.
• Keep it simple. On a single sheet of notebook paper (fold a few into the back of this booklet) note:
GPS or map location (include Ranger District if known.)
• Weed species and size of infestation
• Stage of development (freshly sprouted, flowering, gone to seed)
• Action taken (hand pulling, flower removal, none)
• Take pictures
• Send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass it on.