Missoula County Weed and AIS District’s busy summer is characterized by early morning veg monitoring to beat the heat and late afternoon biocontrol collections in the hot sun when the insects are most active and collectible. One thing we can rely on in the invasive species world is the consistency of these species to make their appearance within the same seasons each year.
Since May 1st, our office has provided vegetation management recommendations to over 200 people and made over 50 landowner site visits to help create management plans for private properties. Seasonal mapping of the roadsides begins with the first visible noxious weeds. This summer, county-maintained roads are being mapped (by bike) in Potomac and Greenough with an eye toward future treatment. The state-maintained highways and frontage roads are being scoured for infestations of Ventenata dubia, an invasive annual grass, which will be treated in the fall. Data collected over the last year is used to help strategize for the prevention program. (mapping photo) Eradication efforts are prioritized for new invader species; this includes terrestrial plant species that have low concentrations or have been recently discovered and includes sampling for the presence of aquatic plants and veligers within our watershed. The AIS District monitors four lakes within Missoula County for invasive mussels. This season, the Missoula County-operated Clearwater Checkstation has inspected 17,708 watercraft. Through these inspections, two mussel-fouled boats were found. (AIS checkstation) This ongoing early season effort is essential to keep noxious weed densities low and aquatic invasive species (AIS) species out of our waters.
The Weed District hired 6 youth crew members this summer for the Youth in Restoration and the Youth in Biocontrol programs. These programs expose high school students to experiences and possible careers within the natural resource field. The youth programs run for 9 weeks over the summer and crew members work with various state, federal, local agencies, and non-profit organizations. Each project is an educational opportunity for the youth crew to help broaden their experience and knowledge of conservation-related work.
Dips in the river, popsicles, and lots of water help keep morale high during these dog days of summer.