Weed control efforts begin
By ANN McCREARY
Noxious weed control measures on U.S. Forest Service lands in Okanogan County will continue this summer in an effort to reduce the spread of invasive weed species.
Each year between May and October, Forest Service employees and contractors seek and treat noxious weeds on the national forest. About 5,000 acres have been identified as having weed populations.
Specific weed sites within these areas are prioritized for treatment by hand pulling, releasing biological control agents or applying herbicide, according to the Forest Service.
“Weeds within the sites are patchy and scattered,” said Dean McFetridge, Noxious Weed Program Manager for the Methow Valley Ranger District. “Treatment is site-specific and very selective for the target weed species.”
Prevention measures are integrated with the weed control work. Prevention measures include the use of hay, mulch, and seed on national forest land that is certified to be free of noxious weeds. In addition, all ground-disturbing equipment must be cleaned of dirt and debris that may contain weed seed prior to arriving on National Forest lands.
Most of the herbicide treatments will be done with spot applications to individual weeds using backpack sprayers. Low-volume boom sprayers may also be used. Applications will be done by Washington state licensed applicators.
“The use of spot spraying with backpack sprayers and low-volume boom spraying minimizes the risk to non-target plants,” said Carol Ogilvie, Noxious Weed Program Manager for the Tonasket Ranger District. “The herbicides are biodegradable and are low-risk to fish, wildlife, and to human health.”
Treatment is scheduled to begin this month and continue until mid-October.
Noxious weeds to be treated include diffuse, meadow, spotted and Russian knapweed, orange and meadow hawkweed, sulfur cinquefoil, St. Johnswort, dalmatian toadflax, Canada thistle, oxeye daisy, white top, musk and plumeless thistle, scotch broom, common houndstongue, hoary allysum, common tansy and tansy ragwort.
The herbicide is mixed with a blue or yellow dye so that treated areas are easily identifiable. Herbicide treatment areas will be posted with application dates and the herbicides used.
“While the same weed populations may be treated each year, the amount of herbicide actually applied to each population continues to be reduced or the need to use herbicide is eliminated,” said McFetridge. “Monitoring shows that herbicide treatments are effective.”
For questions, call McFetridge at 996-4030 or Ogilvie at (509) 486-5119. Specific weed control locations, maps and information about the project are also available from the Forest Service.