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Palin proclaims Alaska Invasive Weeds Awareness Week

Submitted by Ginny Schlichting
Phone: (907) 474-5211


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USDA Forest Service photo by Tom Heutte
Japanese knotweed overtakes a Juneau beachfront. This plant degrades salmon habitat by clogging waterways.
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UAF Extension photo by Corlene Rose
Purple loosestrife is first found in an Alaska wetland in Anchorage's Chester Creek. Purple loosestrife has spoiled wetland habitats in many states.
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USDA Forest Service photo by Michael Shephard
Spotted knapweed gains a foothold on Turnagain Arm. It is difficult to control and is found along roadsides in Alaska.
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Anchorage, Alaska--Agencies throughout the state are working this week to educate the public about invasive plants as part of Alaska Invasive Weeds Awareness Week.

The National Park Service and the Alaska Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and UAF Cooperative Extension Service, in partnership with other public and private community organizations across the state, will host workshops and events aimed at increasing public awareness and promoting invasive weed prevention and management.

Invasive weeds from other regions of the world are a threat to many aspects of Alaska life, according to Jamie Nielsen, an invasive plants program instructor with Extension.

"The introduction and spread of invasive and noxious weeds threaten our economy and environment by impacting the health of our valued natural resources," she said. "These plant 'invaders' spread aggressively, infesting agricultural fields, clogging waterways, degrading salmon spawning habitat and displacing native plants--reducing forage and shelter that wildlife depends on."

Alaska's National Parks and other public lands are among the last landscapes in the world that have neither gained nor lost species in the past century. However, new populations of highly invasive weeds are documented in Alaska each summer.

Examples include purple loosestrife, which spoils wetland wildlife habitat in many states; Japanese knotweed, which degrades salmon habitat in the Pacific Northwest; and spotted knapweed, which reduces elk habitat and even property values in Montana due to its difficulty to control.

"Preventing weed establishment and spread is much easier and cheaper than eradication, because invasive weed control and damages cost most western states millions of dollars every year--a situation that Alaskans can prevent through simple practices," said Jeff Heys, National Park Service biologist.

Invasive weeds can be spread by animal feed, tires, recreational equipment, contaminated landscaping or construction materials, garden plants and wildflower seed mixes.

To prevent the spread of invasive species, Heys recommends cleaning vehicles and gear regularly before traveling throughout the state, learning to identify problem weeds and reporting any found on public lands.

"At home, residents can take precautions like gardening and landscaping with non-invasive plants and using weed-free hay and straw," said Heys. He also advocates using clean landscaping equipment, weed-free fill materials and seed mixes for projects that disturb the ground, controlling weeds on residential property and assisting with local efforts to address invasive weeds.

Alaskans can get involved in invasive weeds prevention and eradication efforts by participating in one of many weed events happening around the state this week. A schedule is attached, along with a list of other information resources.

CONTACTS: Jamie Nielsen, invasive plants program instructor, (907) 786-6315 or fnjms2@uaf.edu. Jeff Heys, National Park Service biologist, (907) 644-3451 or jeff_heys@nps.gov. UAF public information officer Marmian Grimes at (907) 474-7902 or via e-mail at marmian.grimes@uaf.edu.

Invasive weeds awareness events


Tuesday, June 26 -- 6-8 p.m. Citizen Weeds Warriors pull at Taku Lake, sponsored by the Anchorage Park Foundation. Wednesday, June 27 -- 6-8 p.m. Citizen Weeds Warriors pull at Earthquake Park, sponsored by the Anchorage Park Foundation.


Saturday, June 30 -- 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tanana Valley Farmers' Market will feature a booth with information on local invasive weeds, including live samples of problematic local plants, and weed pulls throughout the day around the market site.


Thursday, June 28 -- 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Participate in a Girdwood weed pull at the local soccer field.


Friday, June 29 -- 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Visit Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve for a weed pull at the park's visitor center.

Kenai Peninsula

Wednesday, June 27 Sound Off program on KSRM Radio will feature a call-in segment on invasive plant species and identification, information on prevention importation, controlling spread, and eradication. Friday, June 29 and Friday, July 6 -- 10 a.m.-noon The City of Kenai will host a weed pull targeting a growing population of narrowleaf hawkweed "Hieracium umbellatum." This plant has been spreading along a roadway and into the woods and a watershed at the mouth of the Kenai River for the past few years. Meet Janice Chumley, integrated pest management technician, at the corner of Forest Drive and the Spur Highway. Ongoing The Peninsula Clarion is running a weekly "Weed of the Week" feature with a short paragraph and photo of problem plants.

Kenny Lake

Wednesday, June 27 -- morning and 1-3 p.m. Jaime Nielsen with UAF Cooperative Extension Service will collect local invasive plant specimens the morning of June 27, set up tables at the Natural Resources Conservation Service offices at 93 Mile Richardson Highway and conduct a workshop from 1-3 p.m.


Friday, June 29 -- 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Third Annual Orange Hawkweed Pull along Kodiak bike path. Meet at East Elementary parking lot. We will have information tables and refreshments. Please bring work gloves and weed-pulling tools if available. This event is cosponsored by Woody Island Tribal Council. Saturday, June 30 -- 7 p.m. Invasive Plants of the Kodiak Archipelago talk at Fort Abercrombie State Park visitor center. This talk is part of the Saturday Evening Lecture Series held throughout the summer.


Tuesday, June 26 -- 2-5 p.m. Weed pull and survey at Reflections Lake pullout area (Parks Highway south, take the Knik River Access exit.) Tuesday, June 26 Upper Susitna Youth Corps workers join Agricultural Research Service staff and volunteers conducting a community orange hawkweed weed pull and study at Talkeetna Airport. For more information, contact Gino Graziano at 354-1227. Wednesday, June 27 and Thursday, June 28 Join the State Forestry Youth Conservation Corps in mowing and pulling weeds at river crossings in the Little Susitna and Knik River areas. For more information, contact Gino Graziano at 354-1227.


Friday, June 29 -- 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Join U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service biologists for a weed pull along Exit Glacier Road. Meet at the glacier overlook pullout, located shortly before the Resurrection River bridge where Exit Glacier Road enters Kenai Fjords National Park.


Saturday, June 30 -- 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Join Sitka National Historical Park Biological Technician Kristi Link for an introduction to invasive weeds and a weed pull.

For more information--including free publications--on invasive species visit:
Alaska Association of Conservation Districts
Alaska Committee for Noxious and Invasive Plants Management
Alaska Invasive Species Working Group
Citizen Weeds Warriors
Govenor Sarah Palin's proclamation
National Park Service, Alaska Exotic Plant Management Team
UAF Cooperative Extension Service