Anyone who owns a yard or swims a lake knows how quickly a weed infestation can ruin a good thing. The same is true for our wild backyard.
The Weeds Survey produces valuable data to ensure our wild places stay healthy. A team project with other plant and conservation groups, the survey catalogs information on noxious weed growth along trails in the Lightning Creek Treasured Landscape area. All it takes is a trained volunteer and an iPad (provided by FSPW) to collect the information that helps officials manage a healthy local ecosystem.
In the spring and summer of 2016, FSPW will be embarking on a project, funded by the National Forest Foundation, to assess the proliferation of noxious invasive weeds in the Lightning Creek Treasured Landscape area. Volunteers will be using an app on an iPad (provided by FSPW) to record the location of weeds found in 10 trail corridors in the Lightning Creek drainage.
Noxious weeds are injurious to natural ecosystems, causing damage by growing aggressively without natural controls. Most have been introduced by mankind, and thereby threaten the primeval character and natural conditions of wilderness. Each state maintains a unique list of noxious weeds. In both Idaho and Montana, state laws require noxious weed control. In the Scotchman Peaks, we face a particularly nasty team of noxious weeds. Nearly all of those found in the Scotchman Peaks are inedible to local wildlife, and they crowd out the native species that animals in the Scotchmans depend on for survival.
Of particular notoriety are four “worst offenders.” Common Tansy is a fast-growing plant with yellow button flowers that can reach 6 feet tall, and is most easily identified by the strong camphor odor that it emits. Hawkweed appears in a number of varieties, both native and non-native, but invasive species can often be identified by their leave-less flower stalks and thick patches of roots connected by roots and/or runners. Knapweed, both the spotted and diffuse versions, is highly invasive and can often be identified by its deeply lobed leaves and white, pink, or purple button flowers. Rounding out the lineup is St. John’s Wort, which has distinctive star-shaped yellow leaves and paired leaves on opposite sides of the stem.