Volunteers and Invasive Plants: Learning and Lending a Hand link

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
America's National Wildlife Refuge System

Volunteers and Invasive Plants: Learning and Lending a Hand

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Volunteers at Nisqually NWR, Washington

Photo of volunteers being trained in plant identification by USFWS staff.

USFWS staff train volunteers in plant identification.

Photo of volunteer helping with pullling purple loosestrife.

Volunteers help pull purple loosestrife.

Photo of volunteers taking bags of purple loosestrife out by canoe.

Bags of purple loosestrife are taken out by canoe.

Photo of volunteers using a weed wrench to extract a poison hemlock plant (left) and an extracted root (right).

Volunteers use a weed wrench to extract a poison hemlock plant (left) and display an extracted root (right).

Photo credits: USFWS

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is located eight miles northeast of Olympia, Washington. The refuge hosts 12 to 14 species of invasive plants and monitors the arrival of new species. The refuge is home to the Refuge Weed Warriors who work to rid the refuge of invasive plants and make sure new ones don’t establish.

Refuge Weed Warriors are trained—both in the classroom and the field—in prevention, control, and eradication of non-native invasive plants at the annual Weed Aware Workshop. They learn how to use GPS units, how to identify invasive plants, the best way to manually pull invasive plants, and other pertinent information. They put that training into practice by mapping and pulling invasive plants on the refuge.

Weed Warriors hold work parties to manually pull purple loosestrife, poison hemlock, and other invasive plants. A popular event is an annual canoe trip that takes volunteers into parts of the refuge that most visitors never get to see. Volunteers bag the loosestrife and remove it from the refuge. “It’s a perk to get into a place that’s not as accessible,” said Refuge Manager, Jean Takekawa.

“We’ve been really successful in getting on top of invasive plant monitoring and control, and getting volunteers integrated into the core of the refuge,” said Takekawa.

To thank the volunteers, the refuge staff hosts an annual volunteer banquet where the staff reports on volunteer achievements. “It’s a really nice acknowledgement,” says Takekawa.

At Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, the volunteers work hard and assist the refuge staff in managing invasive plants—and the refuge staff make every effort to show their gratitude to the industrious volunteers. It’s the perfect combination.

Learn more about volunteering at this refuge:
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Program