One Of The World’s Worst Weeds Has Been Spotted Spreading In The Boise Foothills
Back in May, retired botanist Barbara Ertter spotted a small spreading patch of weeds in the Boise foothills. Due to her experience as a botanist, she recognized this weed as something the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls one of "the world's worst invasive weeds."
Ertter sent a report to another local botanist, Ann DeBolt, who confirmed that it was Cogongrass--a grass native to parts of East Africa and Asia. Cogongrass is invasive and extremely difficult (and expensive) to get rid of.
DeBolt wrote to state experts say the presence of the plant was "extremely alarming." This was the first report of Cogongrass in Idaho. DeBolt was familiar with the grass from her work in Florida, where it often lines roadsides and has invaded mining sites, pastures and natural settings, it will displace native species and boosting the speed and severity of forest and wildfires--a very severe issue the past couple of years, and this year, as well.
As if the problem wasn't bad enough, Idaho is already struggling to deal with invasive grasses. The appearance of cogongrass here in Boise also demonstrates that a warming climate will allow new species to survive and thrive in places where it previously didn't exist.
Cogongrass is already a well-known issue in the Southeast, where the USDA says it has infested more than 1.25 million acres. Currently, the patch in Boise only covers about a tenth of an acre, but this plant's roots can spread up to 8 feet per year. It spreads even faster after a blaze, so this summer is creating more problems than there would have been.
It's very expensive and difficult to get rid of. Grazing animals will not eat the grass, either. So, that doesn't help. The species spreads underground through rhizomes, and over land via foot traffic, vehicles, and wind.
It still isn't clear how cogongrass got into this Boise neighborhood. Director of the weed and pest abatement program for Ada County, Adam Schroeder, thinks it's possible that it hitched a ride with somebody who moved to Boise. It being one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, that's certainly possible.
It's also possible that a cogongrass variant had been planted nearby. A subspecies, sold by the names Red Baron or Japanese bloodgrass, is usually sterile but can revert to the original (fertile) type and spread.
"When you think about what that looks like over the next 10 to 15 years, that's a lot more work," Schroeder said.
Cogongrass isn't the only invasive plant species found in Idaho, however. For at least 150 years, non-native grasses, which includes cheatgrass, medusahead, and ventenata have been introduced to the region by human migration, trade, and agriculture and have reportedly dramatically altered the landscapes in Boise and the Great Basin.
Now that its presence has been detected, it's time to start taking action to prevent it from spreading further. Before DeBolt's email warning regarding the grass in the foothills, Schroeder says, "I might have driven right past this infestation. Every instance of this plant needs to be eradicated before it becomes something that is well out of our control."
Forest fires and wildfires can make this problem only worse. So, it's important that you listen to Smokey The Bear, because only you can prevent forest fires. However, it can be very difficult to prevent forest fires if you...don't know how to prevent forest fires. Sounds obvious but it's true.
Here are some tips to prevent forest fires here in Idaho.
10 Tips To Prevent Wildfires
Invasive plants and fires aren't the only thing to be concerned about in Idaho, however. If you're going to be outdoors experiencing scenic Idaho, you're going to want to prevent ticks, as well.
Ticks not only spread Lyme disease, but much worse diseases, as well. Here's how to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your pets from ticks in Idaho.
Tips To Prevent Ticks
Ticks aren't the only insect to be on the look out for while you're out and about in Idaho. We also have some of the deadliest bugs on earth here. What?! That sounds scary.
Here's the insects you need to keep an eye out for while you're on the trails or outside in beautiful Idaho.
5 of the World's Most Deadly Insects Are in Idaho Right Now
7 Scary Idaho Animals That Might Not Kill You, And 1 That Will
And speaking of Weed...