Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge is nestled into the Bitterroot Valley in southwestern Montana. In 2005, the refuge hosted their first Weed Roundup in which volunteers learned about and then corralled invasive plants.
Seventy volunteers joined together for a day of pulling plants and getting to know each other. “I think (the volunteers) got a sense of ownership and a sense they were taking care of the place,” said Biological Science Technician Deborah Goslin.
Volunteers learned about invasive plants in the county, how to identify them, and how best to pull specific invasives. Then they broke into groups where they “got to meet people who had similar concerns about weeds and the state of the refuge,” said Goslin.
Volunteers of all ages pulled the invasive plants they had recently learned to identify. Prizes were given in categories such as “Youngest Volunteer,” “Oldest Volunteer,” “Longest Root Pulled,” and “Tallest Plant.”
At the end of the event, volunteers weighed their plants to see who had collected the most plants. Everyone received a t-shirt and a free lunch, thanks to an Invasives with Volunteers grant.
By the end of the day, 1,600 pounds of invasive plants had been pulled and bagged, and an unknown number of new friendships had been forged. In fact, the Weed Roundup was so successful they had another one in 2006 and are planning more for the future.
Learn more about volunteering at this refuge:
Lee Metcalf National Wildife Refuge