Settling down for the evening with our ever faithful camp attendant, Stephen the Flamingo Settling down for the evening with our ever faithful camp attendant, Stephen the Flamingo <p>Suiting up to find Rush Skeletonweed in the Frank Church Wilderness</p>

Looking back on Bitterroot WRT Crew’s Season

  • August 10, 2017
  • Posted by Guest Blogger

A Wildlands Restoration Crew, we are quite different than the trail crews, who commonly, and sometimes with a teasing tone, call us weeds crews. While we might not swing pulaskis or buck saws all day, we spend our time with our backs to the sun, or side-hilling the south facing loose slopes with liquid tanks strapped to us, diligently combing for the criminal plants.

Further, we are a small bunch. With only one crew leader and three members, we have formed a tight knit crew that fits great in our beloved pickup. Anyways, our season took place in one of Montana’s most beautiful places, the Bitterroot Mountains, famous enough to make it into a John Denver song. Our hitches took place in Rye Creek and Lick Creek Saddle of the Darby area, Hat Creek at Salmon, Idaho, and around Thompson Flats in the Frank Church Wilderness.

Our first hitch was spent in the Rye Creek area outside of Darby, where we sprayed an area for blueweed and gridded for rush skeletonweed and blueweed. We successfully sprayed a large area of blueweed, pushing it back off forest service land, and where we gridded we were happy to find no rush skeletonweed or blueweed.
The following two hitches were spent at Hat Creek in the Salmon Challis National Forest outside of Salmon, Idaho. Working on an organic cattle allotment, we were able to manually clear ten miles of road of knapweed, eliminating it from the road and following off onto the hillsides.

After our time in the Salmon, we spend another two hitches spraying the Lick Creek saddle for orange and meadow hawkweed. We were assigned to this area as there is a timber sale coming up, and the invasive threat needed to be addressed in case equipment transported the two hawkweed species to new locations.
Finally, this last hitch, and my favorite, took place around Thompson Flats in the Frank Church Wilderness. There, we scaled the sides of talus and scree covered ridges hunting for rush skeletonweed. We were very pleased to find that it had not spread to that area of the wilderness.
The work we did this summer, particularly the rush skeleton weed, was extremely important, as some of these noxious weed species have the ability to completely change landscapes on a massive scale, pushing out forage plants for our grazing species and disrupting the ecological cycle. With this knowledge, I know my crew and I can look back on this season with fond memories knowing we made a difference for the plants, animals, and the people that enjoy our public lands.


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