May 19 – 25, 2019 has been declared Oregon Invasive Weed Awareness Week!
Springtime is an ideal time of the year to reflect on the invasive weeds impacting Oregon. Everyone can begin taking steps to combat these aggressive and harmful invaders.
What Are Invasive Weeds?
When many people think of “weeds,” they conjure images of a common yard or garden pest like dandelions. While these weeds can be bothersome in home landscapes, they are best described as “opportunistic” in that they spread only into areas that have been disturbed. More troubling are those plants that are characterized as “invasive weeds.”
Invasive weeds 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 of 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
Why should you care?
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
Decrease water quality and quantity
Limit land use
Disrupt ecological processes
By preventing these invasive weeds from spreading and by actively controlling known infestations, we can minimize their impact.
Know It Before You Grow It
One of the primary ways that our invasive weeds spread is through the unintentional introduction by unwitting gardeners and homeowners. In fact, many invasive weeds were first introduced through the horticultural trade, in part, because they are hardy and easy to grow. Unfortunately, many of the traits that make a plant desirable also contribute to their aggressive, invasive nature. Because of this, it very important to Know It Before You Grow It.
Before introducing new plants to your yard, take the time to educate yourself about the plant. Research the plant to know its requirements and to determine if it may be invasive. If a plant is invasive, don’t spread it further. Instead, choose a non-invasive alternative that can give you the same look in your yard, but won’t become a problem. Guides like GardenSmart Oregon and Garden Wise Western are great guides to help you select non-invasive plants for your yard.
Ten ways you can celebrate Oregon Invasive Weed Awareness Week!
- 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 an infestation early on is crucial to stopping its spread!
- 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.
- 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 a training near you.
- 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.
- Read a book. There are countless 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.
- Consider a donation. There are many local nonprofits 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.
- Start a garden. Replace your 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 help you select hardy native plants to benefit wildlife in our area.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!