Partnerships dedicated to addressing invasive weeds demonstrated a renewed commitment to the cause this summer through various projects in Wilderness areas across the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.
Weeds such as spotted knapweed and rush skeletonweed find their way into the forest and flourish without any of their natural predators. In doing so, they out–compete native plant species for resources, interrupting the natural balance of the ecosystem. This is especially troubling in wilderness areas, which are valued for their pristine wild character.
In 2015, a consortium of groups formed including the Nez Perce Tribe, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho County, private landowners, and the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. This summer, the groups worked at biological control in the Selway–Bitterroot Wilderness, Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness, and Gospel Hump Wilderness.
In the Selway–Bitterroot Wilderness, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game coordinated with the Nez Perce Bio-Control Center to pack thousands of weevils into the backcountry for biological control releases in the Selway and Lochsa drainages. The agency also provides funding to the Nez Perce Tribe Bio-Control Center to raise and harvest the weevils that are later distributed on the landscape.
In the Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness, staff from the Nez Perce Bio-Control Center coordinated with the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and private ranches along the Salmon River to host workshops about biological control. Landowners were taught best methods for deploying the insects and given an explanation of how and why the weevils are such an effective tool against invasive weeds.