Weed Watchers teaming up to fight invasive weeds on trails in King County this summer

volunteers-on-Weed-Watcher-hike-Twin-Falls-trail-06142017-SShawOn two recent beautiful June days, people gathered at trail heads, not just to hike, but also determined to seek out and remove invasive plants. This might seem like a strange way to spend the day on a beautiful trail, but Weed Watcher volunteers have found that it is very satisfying to help fight back against the spread of invasive plants into wilderness areas, most of which are relatively free of the weeds we are used to seeing in parks closer to cities. We can make a huge difference by stopping these weeds before they get established.

On June 11, a small but hard-working group of volunteers and staff from Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest worked together to put a huge dent in the herb Robert growing around the Middle Fork Trailhead and picnic area.

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We even discovered a pioneering patch of the noxious weed yellow hawkweed in the parking lot, probably brought in on equipment or materials. Simply pulling hawkweed doesn’t kill it, so we reported the patch to the Mountains to Sound Greenway noxious weed crew working in the area and they came out the next week to control it. This is what is known as Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR)!

Weed watcher volunteer Monty Vanderbilt looks at newly discovered patch of invasive yellow hawkweed in the parking lot of the Middle Fork trailhead.
Weed watcher volunteer Monty Vanderbilt looks at newly discovered patch of invasive yellow hawkweed in the parking lot of the Middle Fork trailhead.

Then on June 14, experienced Weed Watcher Ann Stevens led a group of us on an invasive weed hunt on Twin Falls Trail, pulling priority weeds where we could make the most difference, and making notes on areas that were beyond our ability. Bags of herb Robert and tansy ragwort were hauled away, but we had to leave the English holly and yellow archangel for others with better equipment. Although we couldn’t remove all the herb Robert on the trail below the falls, we feel pretty satisfied we got most of it above the falls. Sometimes you have to set priorities!

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For both hikes, we reported our findings online at https://www.eddmaps.org/west/ where the data will be shared with the public agencies in charge off the areas to help them plan their invasive plant work. Read more online about King County Weed Watchers.

Friday, July 7 is our next Weed Watcher Group Hike. We will be targeting weeds on part of the CCC Road-Trail in the Middle Fork Valley. No experience is necessary – just a desire to hike with a purpose. Experienced Weed Watcher Ann Stevens and Noxious Weed Program educator Sasha Shaw will be there to help teach plant ID and guide new volunteers so please feel free to bring any family and friends who are interested.

We will meet at 9:30 am at the North Bend Park N Ride, 331 W North Bend Way, North Bend, WA 98045. People can also meet us at the Bessemer Road gate on Middle Fork Road no later than 10 am, but should let us know so we don’t wait for them at the Park and Ride.

To sign up, email Sasha Shaw at sasha.shaw@kingcounty.gov or text 206-617-4538. Mountaineers members can get stewardship credit by signing up through The Mountaineers activities website.  Hope to see you there!

CCC Trail sign