Weed Warriors: Grant to help council fight invasive weeds in the Truckee River watershed
October 10, 2010
TRUCKEE, Calif. andamp;#8212; In the Tahoe-Truckee region, most of the attention paid to invasive species and weeds relates to Lake Tahoe. However, the Truckee River watershed is currently host to an assortment of terrestrial invasive plant species, and along with effecting biodiversity and terrestrial habitat, officials say those invasive noxious weeds detrimentally impact water quality.For instance, musk thistle andamp;#8212; a non-native species that is flourishing in the Truckee River watershed andamp;#8212; has a deep tap root that borrows straight down through the soil, said Beth Christman, director of restoration for the Truckee River Watershed Council.As musk thistle outcompetes the river’s native grass and other plants andamp;#8212; which have more extensive root systems that branch out horizontally, stabilizing the soil near the river banks andamp;#8212; this causes more erosion, which, in turn, means more water-clouding sediment and nutrients reach the watershed system, Christman said.With this in mind, the Martis Fund has awarded the council’s Truckee River Weed Warrior Program a multi-year funding grant to allow the program to establish a website data base, educate the community and implement invasive weed prevention guidelines.The Martis Fund awarded a total of $77,000 to be used over a three-year period, said Nicole Carlsen, operations coordinator for the council.andamp;#8220;Invasive weeds are a serious threat to the ecological health of Martis Valley,andamp;#8221; said David Welch, president of the Martis Fund. andamp;#8220;We appreciate the opportunity to support a great grassroots effort to protect the natural resources of our region.andamp;#8221;Along with the threat to water quality, the biology of the area can suffer if a consistent crop of thistle is allowed to persist in meadows along the river, Christman said.andamp;#8220;Thistle may not be attractive to deer that have grown accustomed to eating bottlebrush,andamp;#8221; she said.
The grant allows the council to invest in new technologies, an example of which consists in a smartphone application that allows residents to take pictures of a suspected weed, which is then entered in a GPS database, Christman said. From there, council employees are able to investigate the specific area to determine whether the plant is invasive.The grant will also help fund educational programs, designed to inform residents about the differences between native plants beneficial to the surrounding ecology and the noxious weeds.andamp;#8220;We have had community weeding days, where residents help us pull musk thistle,andamp;#8221; Christman said. andamp;#8220;Education is important because people not only need to know how to properly identify invasive weeds, but they also need to know how to treat them. Some plants can regenerate from their root system, so hand pulling is ineffective.andamp;#8221;By training a broad-based population to identify and remove invasive weeds, the council believes it can help control the spread.andamp;#8220;Early detection is key to control,andamp;#8221; said Christman, adding that control is not the final objective. andamp;#8220;Maybe this is naive, but the infestations in the watershed are currently such that we feel we can entirely eradicate some of these species from the area.andamp;#8221;