Weeds seem like a never-ending battle, both in our yards and in our forests. Despite our best efforts, with people come weeds. Whether the seeds are on our clothes or boots, stuck to our furry hiking buddies or left them in the forest as a present from our horse. In a way, it is a never-ending battle, but Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness (FSPW) is hoping to level the playing field.

With support from the National Forest Foundation, FSPW is sending volunteers out to monitor invasive weed populations in nine trails in the Lightning Creek Treasured Landscapes site. The weed warrior project is part of a larger habitat restoration component of the Treasured Landscapes site work. Because FSPW treated some of the weeds last year, this year’s data will help FSPW and the Forest Service monitor the efficacy of previous treatments and plan for this year’s treatments.

The volunteers are using technology as a weed weapon by mapping weed populations on an iPad with GPS mapping software. As with any technology, FSPW is sending out plain old GPS units as backup, but overall, volunteers have been able to map out a good portion of the weed populations in the area utilizing the iPad.

To help volunteers identify the enemy, FSPW partnered with North Idaho’s “weed guy,” Ken Thacker, to produce a “Weeds in the Wilderness” booklet. The backpack guide is small enough to fit easily in a pack, printed on rain-proof paper and has colored photos and descriptions of the weeds. FSPW also has a field training to teach volunteers about identifying weeds on the trails. For instance, common tansy has a potent smell, which makes it easily identifiable if you break off a leaf and sniff it.

Thanks to spring runoff, volunteers have surveyed six of the nine trails with results being about as expected. Last year’s treatments worked: most of the weeds are close to the trailheads and concentrated within the first mile or so of the trails and—the volunteers have learned a heck of a lot about weeds!

Here’s to creeks coming down and the last few trails being surveyed!

Click here to learn more about Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness' efforts.

National Forest Foundation