Dealing with noxious weeds is serious business in the Wasatch Back
Landowners in the Wasatch Back are required by state law to manage noxious weeds on their property. And this spring has seen a proliferation of them around town.
Garlic Mustard, Dyer’s Woad, and Knapweed are three of the 34 weeds identified in Summit County as noxious, which means they’re invasive and non-native.
Identifying invasive weeds is the first step to controlling the non-native plant population. Pulling, targeted herbicide applications, and biological mitigation are all methods of dealing with unwanted vegetation.
According to Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter Conservation Coordinator Rhea Cone, noxious weeds can choke out and sometimes poison native species that are important for the ecological health of the area.
She said environmental damage from some weed invasions could be permanent.
“They’re often kind of described as this biological wildfire that can take over entire areas and crowd out native species. So, native biodiversity of plants are crowded out and taken over instead by these non-native species that don't provide the same ecological benefit to our bio-diverse wildlife increased soil erosion damage watersheds with that erosion and water quality.”
Cone said invasive weed management is the most extensive and expensive project the preserve takes on for managing the ecological value and wildlife habitat in the preserve.
To get the job done, the preserve seeks help from the community. It’s scheduled weekly morning weed-pull sessions throughout the summer. Volunteers can sign up at swanerecocenter.org
“And people can get out onto areas of the preserve that are not open to the public and help us tackle invasive leaves and remove them from different areas from the wetland areas of the preserve. We've been working on the upland areas. It's a really great way to get out on the places that you wouldn't be able to get out onto and see wildlife and see different areas of the preserve.”
Cone said noxious weed populations ebb and flow. The preserve was established in the mid-’90s, and with the help of volunteers, it’s been able to keep the weeds there under control.
“The areas that are of most concerns to us are those critical, rare wetland parts of the preserve. Less than 1% of Utah is a wetland and 80% of species rely on wetlands for some portion of their lifecycle, whether that's migratory animals, something that lives there all year, or something that just stops by. So protecting those really critical pieces of wetland is our biggest priority.”
The Summit County weed control department asks landowners to identify noxious weeds and contact Weed Superintendent Dave Bingham with any questions about how to get rid of them.
The Summit County website has pictures of the plants and what can be done to mitigate them. Find the link to that page here.
Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter is celebrating the longest day of the year on Tuesday, June 21. Summer Solstice Volunteer and Beer is a weed-pulling event in the preserve. It starts at 5:30. Beer and pizza will wrap up the evening on the deck from 7 to 8 P.M. Pre-registration at swanerecocenter.org is required and participants must be 21.