Wildlife Refuge Launches Weed Warriors
They’ve invaded your yard, your favorite fishing water, your fields and forests. It’s long since past the time for you to take up your swords – and fishing rods – and become a warrior against these invaders.
Or perhaps it’s too late.
Credit goes today to our friends at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge for their new Weed Warriors Program. In addition to battling invasive plants on the refuge, they’ve taken their campaign outside to the public to encourage refuge neighbors to join the fight.
Weed Warriors rewards people for removing invasive plants, and features their success stories and photos in tweets and facebook. Every month a top warrior is chosen and given a prize.
Alas, if only the program could be expanded to fish. Invasives including northern pike, crappie, muskies, and even bass in some places, have wiped out native fisheries, especially brook trout.
But there’s never been a Fish Warriors Program. Probably because the fishing community is still divided into camps, some of which love to catch the invasives. Anglers spend most of their time fighting amongst themselves, rather than finding common ground to tackle the most pressing fisheries problems.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t sign up to be a Weed Warrior. It’s just my personal lament over the state of our diminished inland fishery.
It’s easy to be a Weed Warrior. Here’s what you do. Locate invasive species on your property. Grab some tools and remove those plants. Take a photo of your activity. Tweet the photo with the hashtag #WeedWarriors or post it to the Rachel Carson Facebook page.
Don’t know how to identify an invasive plant from a native dandelion? OK, that’s a trick question. The dandelion is a very invasive plant. Next spring, as you dig your dandelion greens, you can take a photo and become a Weed Warrior!
Which illustrates that the Weed Warriors may encounter the same problem that has burdened those who work to rid our state of invasive fisheries. Some of these invasive plants are very popular. Indeed, many got their start in home gardens.
An excellent Weed Warriors brochure is available on the Rachel Carson website. The brochure features six particularly bad invasive plants: Bush Honeysuckle, Oriental Bittersweet, Glossy Buckthorn, Garlic Mustard, Japanese Barberry, and Black Swallowart.
I’m looking at some bittersweet, with its beautiful yellow fruit, hanging over our kitchen window, as I write this column today. Linda harvested it just down the road apiece. She does that every year. And there’s no chance she’ll be ripping it out of the ground to become a Weed Warrior.
We have met the enemy, and he is us!
Nevertheless, the good folks at Rachel Carson deserve enormous credit for this new project, and you are encouraged to participate by locating some invasive plants that you do not like, and ripping them out. Many natives – the plants – maybe the people – will thank you.