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.

Photo by: GeorgiaTrees on YouTube
Photo by: GeorgiaTrees on YouTube

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.

Photo by: GeorgiaTrees on YouTube
Photo by: GeorgiaTrees on YouTube

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.

Photo by: GeorgiaTrees on YouTube
Photo by: GeorgiaTrees on YouTube

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.

Wildland Firefighting Crews Train In Montana
Credit: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

10 Tips To Prevent Wildfires

Smokey The Bear said it best, "only you can prevent wildfires." Well, it's a lot easier said than done, Smokey. Great name for a bear trying to warn us about fire hazards, by the way.

In order to prevent wildfires, you have to first know how they can be prevented. Here are 10 tips provided by the Department Of Interior that will help you in your every day life, so you can enjoy being outside, camping, and having bonfires without it turning into a problem.

Here are their 10 tips, along with some simplified explanations from me.
Photo by: Fabian Jones on Unsplash
Photo by: Fabian Jones on Unsplash

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

You do not want to mess with ticks. Keep them as far away from you as possible. Now, that doesn't mean don't ever go outside! That would be ridiculous. Here are some tips to help prevent you from getting bit by a tick and risking Lyme Disease. Follow these Tick Tips to keep you, your loved ones, and your fur babies safe this summer!

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

Field & Stream, an outdoor publication that's been around for more than 125 years, put together a list of the most deadly insects (and arachnids, they admitted to being "taxonomically laid back" in their article) in the world. Five of them can be found in Idaho!

7 Scary Idaho Animals That Might Not Kill You, And 1 That Will

And speaking of Weed...

5 Super Dope Spots To Smoke Weed In Idaho

You're in Idaho and looking for some where cool to burn one down? Look no further. These are the five spots I'd recommend you check out to really get the most out of your session. Idaho is home of amazing scenery, so get ready to destress and have your worries fade away. Let's spark it up.

4 Practical Reasons The People of Boise Want Weed Legalized

We asked the people of Boise why they want weed legalized in the state of Idaho... and they bring up some valid points!

Weed Tweets: The People of Idaho React to 4/20 in Hilarious Ways

The people of Idaho had a lot to tweet about on 4/20. Here are our favorite tweets from weed's favorite day of the year.

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