May 14-20 has been declared Oregon Invasive Weed Awareness Week!
Take the opportunity this week to reflect on the invasive weeds impacting Oregon and begin taking steps to combat these aggressive and harmful invaders.
What Are Invasive Weeds?
Often, when people think of “weeds,” they conjure images of common yard or garden pests like dandelions or chickweed. While these weeds can be bothersome in home landscapes, they are best described as “opportunistic” in that they spread into areas which have been disturbed.
Invasive weeds, on the other hand, are plants that live outside their historic geographical range, and whose aggressive growth has a detrimental effect on our social, economic, or ecologic resources. The three key components which define invasive weeds are that they:
- Did not historically occur in our area, but have been brought in either intentionally or unintentionally through human action
- Exhibit aggressive growth which displaces native or desirable vegetation, and will continue to spread unless actively controlled
- Have a negative impact on our community
What Are the Negative Impacts?
Invasive weeds can have a negative impact on us in a variety of ways. Invasive weeds are known to:
- Displace native vegetation
- Reduce crop yields
- Harm fish and wildlife
- Adversely affect human health
- Damage property and infrastructure
- Reduce forage for livestock and wildlife
- Decrease property values
- Increase erosion
- Decrease water quality and quantity
- Limit land use
- Disrupt ecological processes
By preventing these invasive weeds from spreading and actively controlling known infestations, we can minimize their impact.
Ten ways you can celebrate Oregon Invasive Weed Awareness Week
1 – Learn more about invasive weeds in our area. Check out the WeedWise program’s weed list. Learn to recognize common invaders and keep an eye out for signs of new ones. Check trees, gardens, vacant lots, roadsides, yards, agricultural areas, wetlands, ponds, and lakes. Finding this infestation early on is crucial to stopping their spread!
2 – Join in the battle against invasive weeds. There are many volunteer events going on all across the state. SOLVE offers a number of upcoming volunteer opportunities across the state, where you can join in the effort to control invasive weeds.
3 – Become a Weed Watcher. One of the best strategies for combating invasive weeds is to identify new infestations before they have a chance to spread. You can learn how to identify and report new infestations by attending a local weed watcher training. Check the 4-County Cooperative Weed Management Area or the Pacific Northwest Invasive Plant Council web pages for trainings near you.
4 – Visit a natural area near you. Spend an afternoon at a local park, garden, or natural area and familiarize yourself with the flora in your area.
5 – Read a book. There are many field guides about invasive species in our area. Check out a text from your local library or stop by our office, for a free copy of Field Guide to Weeds of the Willamette Valley.
6 – Consider a donation. There are many local non-profits that are actively working to control invasive weeds. They rely upon grants and donations to support their efforts. Check the Give Guide for information about local organizations working to control invasive weeds.
7 – Start a garden. Replace invasive landscape plants with native alternatives. Our partners at the Backyard Habitat Certification Program have resources available to help you manage your home landscape for invasive weeds and plant hardy native plants to benefit wildlife in our area.
8 – Help make policy. Write a letter to your local lawmakers. Express your opinions and concerns about the impact of invasive weeds on our communities and natural resources.
9 – Pledge to give invasive weeds the brush off! One of the primary ways that invasive weeds spread is through dirty boots and equipment. Join others in pledging to clean boots, shoes, and tires after recreating in an area.
10 – Spread awareness. Tell your friends, family, neighbors, and others about invasive weeds. Pick at least three people to talk to this week to raise awareness about invasive weeds. Encourage them to get involved with Oregon Invasive Weed Awareness Week in their own way!
Enjoy Oregon Invasive Weed Awareness Week and thanks for helping to spread the word and not the weeds!