Working together to strengthen and support noxious weed management efforts in Montana.

invasive aquatic plants

Eurasian Water Milfoil Now in Flathead County

Monday, November 7th, 2011


Eurasian water milfoil (EWM) was confirmed in Beaver Lake, in Flathead County, on October 19, 2011  The lake was closed for public use on October 24th.  Erik Hanson, a biologist and consultant with the Flathead Basin aquatic invasive species work group, estimates the 12-foot-by-12-foot patch of the weed, has been growing undetected for about three years.

Barriers have been placed in the lake.  The barriers, purchased last week by Flathead County, consist of a heavy, black liner material attached to PVC pipes that are filled with sand to stay on the lake bottom. The barriers will stay in place until next spring when divers will return to the water to remove the weed.

If left untreated, milfoil forms dense mats of vegetation on the surface of the water that may  interfere with recreational activities such as fishing, swimming, and boating. The resulting effect can be a decrease in lakefront property values.  EWM reproduces successfully and very rapidly, making it a threat to any water body it invades.

Pieces of plants are easily transported between water bodies by boats and fishing gear.  Anyone who has fished or boated in Beaver Lake must clean their boats, equipment and waders prior to entering another water body. Please contact Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) in Kalispell at 444-2449 if non-decontaminated equipment was taken from Beaver Lake to any other lake so those locations can be monitored. FWP has a decontamination station and a brochure listing approved car washes.

Visit our EWM weed ID page or library for more information.

Curly-leaf Pond Weed Found in Montana!

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010


In late June, curly-leaf pondweed (Potamogeton crispus), one of Montana’s Priority 1 noxious weeds, was found near Bozeman in several ponds along the East Gallatin River drainage system. Priority 1 noxious weeds have limited presence in the state, and require eradication or containment where they are present, with prevention encouraged in areas not yet infested.

Melissa Graves, Plant Identification Diagnostician from Montana State University’s Schutter Diagnostic Lab, gave a full description of the invasive aquatic plant that occurs in ponds, lakes, and slower moving streams or rivers.

“Curly-leaf pondweed prefers shallow water depths with a silty, high-nutrient bottom. It is distinguished from native pondweed species by its growth habit and distinctive leaf edges. Unlike native pondweeds, it actively grows in winter, with new plants emerging in spring. The leaves have wavy edges resembling lasagna noodles. They are about one to three inches long, narrow, reddish in color, and translucent, with flattened stems visible through the leaves.”

Read the complete article from MSU News Service here.

Visit the MWCA curly leaf pondweed identification page.

New Alien Invasive Species Awareness Campaign

Sunday, June 6th, 2010


Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has started a new awareness campaign aimed at aquatic invasive species.

They have new television spots and materials available.  Some of the new materials include:

  • Postcards
  • Posters
  • Fliers
  • Bumper Stickers
  • Media Kits

Contact Eileen Ryce, ANS Coordintor, at Montana FWP for more information on how to obtain these materials (406) 444-2448.

Missoula County Success Against Yellow Flag Iris

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010


Bancroft Pond in 2006

Bancroft Pond in 2006

We tend to be a little unique here in Western Montana. Many of you know that here in Missoula we walk to the beat of a different drum, just stand on Higgins Ave. any day of the week and you will see people walking, literally to the beat of different drums! All joking aside, we have made great progress over here in terms of raising public awareness of noxious weeds and the importance of using an integrated approach to manage them. This is evident on City Open Space, County Parks and within our VMA’s. The Missoula Valley Yellowflag Iris Eradication Project is one project in particular that deserves attention and has been very successful at raising public awareness about controlling noxious weeds and has generated  overwhelming public support for stopping new invaders.

Until 2001 the bulk of the distribution of yellowflag iris (YFI) in the Missoula Valley was confined to a 1.5 mile section of lower Pattee Creek. In 2001 redevelopment of southwest Higgins Avenue involved updating drainage culverts and resulted in connecting lower Pattee Creek to the Bitterroot River through a series of drainage ditches and ponds. One consequence of altering the path of Pattee Creek was an explosion of YFI in these waterways. After reconstruction the YFI populations expanded to approximately 3.5 miles of drainage ditch between lower Pattee Creek and the Bitterroot River, and completely lined the Bancroft Ponds, a popular urban park. When the Missoula County Weed District mapped the extent of the YFI in order to get baseline data on the infestation, the discovery of several immature YFI where the ditch now drained into the Bitterroot River and this increased the severity of the problem. Land managers in this area recognized the need for immediate response to this problem; if the infestation remained unmanaged it would easily spread throughout the lower Bitterroot and Clark Fork rivers.

In 2004 a collaborative effort was undertaken by multiple partners in the Missoula Valley to begin to address these YFI infestations. The Missoula County Weed District, Missoula City Parks and Recreation, and the University of Montana launched an awareness campaign, targeting residents in the Pattee Creek area as well as the greater Missoula area. This campaign included newspaper articles, direct mailings, door-to-door visits and homeowner group meetings. The partners were pleasantly surprised, as once most residents where informed about the negative impacts YFI has on riparian habitats, they became very supportive of managing this invasive weed.

In 2005 the City of Missoula Parks and Recreation Department began chemical and mechanical control of YFI in Bancroft Ponds Park, home to the largest infestation of this plant in the valley. A commercial applicator sprayed the infestation with an 8% solution of aquatically labeled glyphosate and a team of interns mowed mature flowers for a ¼ mile upstream of this infestation to reduce seed input into the pond. The city continued these same controls on these infestations in 2006.

In the spring of 2006 Missoula County Weed District staff and a team of University of Montana interns went door to door in neighborhoods at the upstream end of the infestation handing out educational materials about YFI and the eradication campaign. In the spring of 2006 landowners in the Pattee Ck. Vegetation Management Area became involved with the project and a commercial applicator was hired to treat the upper ½ mile of the infestation; all of which was on private lands. Along this stretch of creek concentrated aquatic glyphosate was injected into flower stalks. This helped to eliminate the possibility of non-target damage to the many ornamental plantings landowners have established along the creek. In the fall of 2006 the University of Montana treated several infestations at a flood control pond within the project area.

In 2007, the project received a grant from Noxious Weed Trust Fund to treat the entire project area. This increase in funding for the project coupled with promising   results from 2005-06 controls for the first time partners felt confident that eradication of YFI in the Missoula Valley was actually achievable. The treatments have moved away from stem injection, to precision spot spraying with a backpack. Stem injection proved to be too labor intensive and not as effective as foliar application. The entire project area was treated again in 2008, with huge reductions in infestation size and frequency.  In 2009 we again received a grant from the Noxious Weed Trust Fund. In the 2009 field season some sites no longer need to be treated but where still monitored for seedling germination. In the past five years, we have observed as much as a 90% reduction in YFI across the project area, with complete eradication at many sites. Yearly monitoring of all areas will continued to assure no seedlings emerge as the seed viability of YFI isn’t well documented.

Bancroft Pond in 2009

Bancroft Pond in 2009

Each field season we maintain contact with our landowners and each year we are encouraged by the positive response from the landowners.  From the beginning of the project educating the public on the negative environmental impacts of noxious weeds and instilling a vision of attractive replacements for YFI was critical for getting support from a largely skeptical public. Partners (public and private) are now working on restoring the ponds and urban wetlands present in Bancroft Ponds Park, with the hopes that this site will serve as a restoration demonstration area. On Halloween of this year volunteers from across the project area held a planting day, where we planted Rocky Mountain Iris, Blue Camas, Yellow Monkey Flower and spread a native riparian seed mixture.

Call us what you want… Granola, Hippies, Freaks. But remember we are all in this battle together, working towards a common goal of protecting Montana from the invasion of noxious weeds. And bite your tongue because your kids may someday be going to school here and if they do, they may like it so much they never leave!