Put your weed detector skills to work on lakes and trails in King County

The best way to stop invasive plants is to find them early before they take over, but it’s hard to cover enough ground to find all the new invaders in time. To help us cover more area, we have two weed watcher programs for volunteers to help us find new invasive plants in King County – one for lakes and one for trails.

If you enjoy paddling around lakes looking at plants, or if you just can’t stand to see lakes fill up with weeds, the Lake Weed Watcher Program might be just the ticket. The Lake Weed Watcher volunteer training is coming up on June 23 at 6pm and will be held at Seward Park Audubon Center, 5902 Lake Washington Blvd South in Seattle. To sign up, or for more information, contact Joe Neumann. You can choose to adopt a lake you live near or go somewhere new, it’s all up to you.

Lake Weed Watcher training at Lake Desire. Photo by Joe Neumann.

If you prefer hiking over boating, you might enjoy our trail weed watcher program.  It is a joint effort with the Pacific Northwest Invasive Plant Council (PNW-IPC) and is formally called the EDRR Citizen Science Invasive Plant Program. Even though the formal trainings are all done for the year, it’s not too late to participate by surveying one of your favorite trails for priority invasive weeds. Just download the training materials and volunteer handbook from the website and contact Julie Combs at PNW-IPC or Joe Neumann at King County to get all set up. There are priority trails all over Washington, and even in Oregon, so there’s plenty of room for more volunteers!

Weed watcher volunteers learning to identify hawkweed on a group hike.

To get started right away, join us on June 18 for a group weed watching hike and work party on the Middle Fork Road-Trail. If it drives you crazy to see herb Robert (a.k.a. stinky bob) while you are out hiking, this is the perfect event for you. In addition to practicing our weed survey skills, we will focus on pulling herb Robert to help stop it from spreading up the Middle Fork Valley to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Volunteers have been battling this pesky invader on the Middle Fork for years and it’s crucial to keep up the pressure so we don’t lose all the progress that’s been made. We will meet at the North Bend Park and Ride on North Bend Way across from Scott’s Dairy Freeze at 9:00 AM and carpool together from there.  Contact Joe Neumann to sign up.

And finally, here’s some advice from Joe for the group hike (or any weed watching trek). Dress for the weather, whatever that will be. Don’t forget sunblock. Bring your allergy medications and tell us about any allergies or medical conditions you have. Wear sturdy hiking shoes. Bring plenty of water for the day, a lunch and plenty of snacks to keep you going. Survey forms, your smartphone and weed identification guides will be good if you want to follow along and practice. A trowel or small digging tool will be helpful in case we find things we can remove then and there if you have your own.  And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun and feel good about hiking with a purpose!

Volunteer weed watchers after a hard day pulling herb Robert at Ira Spring Trail. Photo by Sasha Shaw.