Boxelder County 2021
Rush skeletonweed continues to invade Utah’s northern borders and while cooperators continue the battle, rush skeletonweed constantly stretches its range in Northern Utah. The Utah Weed Supervisor’s Association in coordination with Box Elder County conducted biocontrol releases on rush skeletonweed in July of 2021.
Root boring moths were collected from a field site near Boise, Idaho and released in two sites in Box Elder County. Rush skeletonweed sites were scouted ahead of the biocontrol release in June to look for ideal locations and conduct pre-release monitoring. The team set up an insectary cage in Hansel Valley to help increase biocontrol populations. The insectary cage will help increase moth populations in order to create a new biocontrol insectary in Utah.
Weber County 2017-2021
Since 2017, Utah Forestry Fire and State Lands (UFFSL) has been working with multiple landowners in the Causey area of Weber County to control infestations of noxious weeds. At first the project was focused on controlling about 200 acres of knapweed, but came to include larger knapweed infestations, Dalmatian toadflax, musk thistle, Canada thistle, whitetop and other weeds. A large population of white bryony was discovered on one of the properties. Although it is not yet considered a noxious weed in Utah, it is highly invasive and considered noxious in Washington, Idaho and Oregon. Jointly funded by the Utah Invasive Species Mitigation fund and the Utah Weed Supervisors/U.S. Forest Service grants, UFFSL treated 2,729 acres, using herbicide and bio-control methods. Finally, they seeded some treated areas and completed the project in October 2021. The agency has released a report to the landowners describing their work, showing before and after pictures, and most importantly, providing owners with a list of activities that will help them continue efforts to reduce infestations. You can read the report here.
Before and After
Below you can see two very fine examples of weed control success. More images are available in the report.
Private property owners at the Sourdough Wilderness Ranch, Mountain Shadow and Causey Estates in Weber County actively participated in the UFFSL’s efforts to control noxious weeds on their properties. When the agency completed it’s work in 2021-22 it created a list of recommended actions for landowners.
The following list is typical:
- Mandatory weed wash for all vehicles entering the property.
- Weed education for property visitors and permitees that encourages proper weed identification and control methods.
- Implement a program that requires all activities that create bare ground (road grader, spring improvement, etc.) must be reseeded the first year they are disturbed, and a plan is in place to spray for weeds at least twice a year for two years
- Regular monitoring for new infestations. Possibly designate individuals that regularly visit the property that can identify weeds and willing to travel all the roads and trails multiple times a year to record locations of infestations, which are then treated.
- Increase dependable water sources for weed control (significant time is wasted traveling back to a reliable water source).
Washington County 2021
Weed supervisors and workers representing 18 Utah counties gathered in St. George for the 2021 Annual Utah Weed Supervisor Training June 2-3. The training began with classroom instruction provided by subject-matter experts from throughout the state and was attended by 46 people.
The group heard from Chris Haller with DNR Motorized Trails program, who spoke about ATV safety. Earl Creech, the USU Extension Agronomist, spoke about the identification and treatment of Palmer amaranth, an Early Detection Rapid Response species. Corteva Agriscience chemical representative, Trent Brusseau, discussed herbicide choices and talked specifically about Duracor and Terravue.
Because the Utah Weed Supervisors Association receives federal funds, it must comply with federal civil rights laws. Dave Bingham led a discussion regarding the civil rights obligations of the counties receiving subgrants from the UWSA. The UWSA has a new website, which is populated with reports from the members regarding their projects. Kevin Bailey explained the requirements for photos and narratives to be posted to the web site.
Brittany Duncan, with Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, talked to the group about the differences between Malta Star thistle and yellow star thistle and the Arundo vs. bamboo. Jerry Caldwell talked to the group about pictures and what is needed to take good pictures. Amber Mendenhall gave a state address concerning the biological program in the state of Utah. Natalie Fronk from USU extension gave a presentation about the life cycle management of invasive mustards. Aaron Eager, the State Weed Specialist gave the State of the State address.(more…)
Weber County 2020-2021
In the summer season of 2020-2021, the USDA Sage Grouse Grant provided for the treatment of approximately 2,258 acres of knapweed, Canada thistle, musk thistle, and dyer’s woad infested forests and rangelands. The project spanned four large private ownerships as well as small amounts of USFS lands that total more than 16,000 acres. Approximately 35 miles of unimproved roads and trails across all ownerships were monitored and treated for weed infestations. Numerous new or undiscovered weed infestations were identified and treated during this project, which originally targeted only 195 acres of known weeds.
Herbicide: Personnel from the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands in cooperation with private landowners and local county employees sprayed approximately 2,258 acres across the four properties from June 2020 to July in 2021. Milestone was used on areas with spotted knapweed or Canada thistle, while dyer’s woad and musk thistle infestations were sprayed with primarily Escort and Weedmaster. Personnel employed ATVs, UTVs, backpack sprayers, and contract helicopters to apply herbicide. Most of the treatments involved spot spraying with minimal boom spraying necessary. Private landowners provided significant contributions with multiple spray days and assistance with spraying efforts. (At left: Worker uses backpack sprayer to treat weeds in less accessible areas.)
Biocontrol: Toadflax weevils (Mecinus janthinus) were collected and released in 10 locations, totaling more than 5,500 insects. Approximately 11,000 knapweed seed weevils (Larinus minutus) were released in 10 locations. Canada thistle flies (Urophoroa cardui) were released in 7 locations for a total of 1,400 insects. And four releases of dyer’s woad rust (Puccinia thlaspeos) were made in 4 different locations. All releases were done in partnership with the Utah Weed Supervisors’ biocontrol contractor. Good release sites have become more difficult to find due to treatment efforts removing forage for potential insects. (At right, biocontrol specialist, Amber Mendenhall monitors and re-releases biocontrol for dyer’s woad.)
Challenges and Successes
- With more than 2,258 acres receiving some variation of treatment, many areas were only monitored or treated on a single instance rather than included in follow-up efforts. Overall, most areas were treated multiple times throughout the summer and well before plant maturity.
- Approximately 60 private landowners and cooperators turned out for our spring spray days to learn about weed control and to implement treatments throughout the project area.
- Overall, the project was quite successful and many areas were sprayed while target weeds were in the rosette stage. Herbicides were very effective and spot spraying in the fall was very minimal in areas properly treated in the spring.
- Although the knapweed population has been significantly controlled during this effort and greatly reduced, various populations of lower priority weeds such as dyer’s woad were able to move into more inaccessible areas that would require a massive backpack spraying effort to fully control.
- Aging equipment with constant mechanical issues reduced efficiency and productivity on a number of days.
Cache County 2020
Since 2014, the Cache County Vegetation Management crew has involved elementary school students in biocontrol projects at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area (HRWMA). The students learn about noxious weeds, how to release biocontrol agents and monitor sites of previous releases. The students, from Logan School District and USU’s Edith Bowen Elementary, lend valuable assistance to the program, while gaining an interest in noxious weed management and biocontrol. The project is under the direction of Jake Forsgren, Cache County Vegetation Manager and Amber Mendenhall, Utah Weed Supervisors Association Biocontrol Coordinator.
Cache County’s school biocontrol program expanded this year to include five field days, two noxious weeds and four biocontrol agents. The county was unable to host as many different groups of students due to COVID-19 risk. However, several small groups of students visited Hardware Ranch. All education groups were able to follow state and local COVID-19 guidelines including groups of under 20 wearing masks and being socially distanced outdoors.
Mendenhall taught students about the use of biocontrol and its effect on noxious weeds. They discussed the impact of noxious weeds on the Wildlife Management Area. Students were encouraged to discuss ideas to control invasive weeds. Following the discussion, students helped to monitor ongoing biocontrol sites to look for evidence of biocontrol insects. Participants also took data on vegetation cover to determine the impact of biocontrol agents.
The Cache County Weed Department helped to conduct biocontrol releases and monitoring when students were unable to participate. Cache County was especially helpful in stepping up to assist with this program on several days throughout the year.(more…)
Weber County and Cache County, May 2021
The US Forest Service Forest Health Protection (FHP) Ogden Field Office hired two new entomologists and a new pathologist in the past year. On May 11, Amber Mendenhall, UWSA Biocontrol Coordinator, and Carol Randall, USFS FHP biocontrol specialist, traveled to Ogden to meet their newest colleagues and introduce them to biocontrol in Utah. Amber and Carol trained the new entomologists and pathologist in the use of classical weed biocontrol. Over the course of two days, the group toured biocontrol sites through Cache and Weber Counties. They were able to meet with Aaron Eagar, Utah Department of Agriculture, four county weed supervisors, experts from Utah State University and land managers from the area. The individuals discussed management plans for various properties and the integration of biocontrol into integrated weed management strategies for several noxious weeds.(more…)
Project Name: Russian Olive/Tamarisk Control & Removal project
Applicant: Piute Conservation District
Project Start Date: July 1, 2019
|Grant #1: $40,000.00||$50,000.00-Piute County||$90,000.00|
|Grant #2: $40,000.00||$50,000.00-Sevier County||$90,000.00|
A Strategic Funding Proposal through the Natural Resource Conservation Service was applied for and received for both Piute and Sevier Conservation District areas in the amount of $50,000.00 a year for 3 years for each area.
Areas Treated (listed by initial due to federal requirement of section 1619 privacy act; which prohibits the use of names)
Both the Piute and Sevier Conservation Districts have the removal of Russian olive and Tamarisk as a high priority in their long-range plans and resource assessments; and both conservation districts have been instrumental in working with the local landowners in education about the programs available. USU Extension agents in both counties have been a valuable resource in helping to find landowners who wanted to work with this program and as a result, we have a long list. And the conservation districts have made this a priority to continue to apply for as many grants as they can to keep the funding and projects continuing. Both County Commissions have also declared it as a noxious weed for their counties.
Most of the treatments were done by the cut stump method where the trees were cut and then immediately treated with herbicide. One landowner that started their project with NRCS decided to have their Russian olive masticated and then sprayed. This is a new method for us, so we will be doing follow-up monitoring on this project extensively. All treatments will be monitored for re-growth. For the treatments that were cut, the trees were put into piles to dry out for 2 years and then they will be burnt.
ISM Monitoring 2018-2020 Year 3
The Summit County Sage-grouse project has the overall goal of improving habitat for sage-grouse and is funded by the Forest Service. One of the ways this project is improving habitat is by controlling noxious weeds in the Sagegrouse Management Area. The Summit County Weed Department has been working closely with both the Forest Service and private land owners to control noxious weeds, and they asked the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, to assist in monitoring the changes in the noxious weeds at three sites.(more…)
ISM Monitoring EDRR 2020 Year 1
Malta star-thistle (Centaurea melitensis) is a high priority, Class 1A Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) species.1 For EDRR species, it is the goal of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF), to map, monitor, treat, and eradicate the infestation as quickly as possible. In 2003, two EddMapS points were uploaded near Motoqua showing infestations of Malta star-thistle. In 2018, the UDAF asked Washington County to re-verify these points. The plants were difficult to find, and were not verified at that time. On April 9, 2020, Brad Winder, the Washington County Weed Supervisor, found about 6-7 acres of plants near La Verkin that he thought could either be yellow star-thistle or Malta star-thistle. He marked the points in EddMapS and reported it to the Utah Weed Supervisor’s Association and UDAF. On April 28, 2020, Corey Ransom, Associate Professor of Weed Science at Utah State University, went out to the site and confirmed that the plant was Malta star-thistle. After the plant was identified, a group effort was made to contain this species. Washington County worked with the Utah Weed Supervisor’s Association and USU Extension to get funding to begin treatment at La Verkin. Several agencies and volunteer groups helped apply for grants, identify and locate more plant populations, and treatment. UDAF helped facilitate the identification of the plant, assisted in the grant application process, and mapped and monitored the sites on June 9-12 as part of its EDRR monitoring protocol. This report is a summary of the first year of monitoring prior to treatment.(more…)