Kearns and Sons RS Aesthetics

Hoary Alyssum scourge is here

By Jane Lambert, Stevensville


This letter is several weeks late, as the Hoary Alyssum is now in full flower, full of seeds, and should have been pulled or sprayed long before this.

Everyone who drives from Stevensville to Highway 93, drives by a burgeoning crop of Hoary Alyssum, which is flourishing along the walk/bike path. You may see only a plant with little white flowers, but this is a noxious weed which is taking over Ravalli County at an astonishing rate. People, this is our next knapweed, only a whole lot worse, because it is toxic to horses, won’t be readily apparent in the hay it infests, and can cause major health issues for our equine companions.

I encourage everyone to look this scourge up on the internet, or go to the extension office, and pick up one of their bulletins. Identification is key to eradication.

But, back to the issue of the walking area. What are we going to do about this? Whose responsibility is getting rid of this weed on public property? Is it private citizens, the Ravalli County Weed people, the State Highway Department—who? What if the Fort Owen Ranch stepped up and sprayed this area to protect their adjacent pastures—and horses? Would that be within the law?

This is a big issue, and the dilemma is not isolated to this small area in question. The Corvallis walk/bike area is loaded with this weed, as are the roadways in that whole area.   Three Mile area is loaded with it—it is literally taking over while the populace is not paying attention.

It takes a very strong chemical to kill this weed—something that most of us do not want to be exposed to. As with knapweed, though, once it allowed to flourish to epidemic proportions, chemical intervention is the only plausible way to get rid of it. The time to act is NOW. People—PAY ATTENTION! If everyone pulled this weed on their own property – or sprayed it – we could stop this.

Right now, it seems to be mainly infesting the roadsides, but if it is not stopped there, it will be showing up in the hay fields and pastures, and will require major herbicide use to control it.

The county road department has stepped up its roadside mowing this year, which is a major help in traffic safety, but it is also Hoary Alyssum’s best friend, as it is spreading the seeds of this noxious weed far and wide. If the citizens of the county don’t want further chemical exposure, they had better step up control by mechanical means. At this point, it is crucial to stop this scourge—and County Weed Control has to be aware of the problem—and their answer will be more chemical spraying—with stronger stuff.

There is a huge overlap with highway mowing, and chemical weed control, too. I would like to see much more coordination between those two county agencies, so that the mowing and spraying coordinate for maximum weed control and traffic safety, but is also as economically efficient as can be.

But the bottom line is community involvement, and personal responsibility for eliminating Hoary Alyssum, and other noxious weeds from your personal property. Weeds on your land directly impact all your neighbors, as we do not live in a vacuum. Animals, wind, irrigation water, and roadside mowers all spread noxious weed seeds. Take care of your land, and you help take care of everyone! Please do not procrastinate on this.

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