Invasive Species Management

Bee on Thistle 512x512

Non-native invasive plants, otherwise known as weeds, present one of the most daunting challenges to natural resource protection. They degrade native habitats and replace native plants that provide critical food for native wildlife. Ultimately, they may negatively affect ecosystem processes, including water availability, soil chemistry, erosion, and sedimentation. Sometimes they hybridize with native plants, forever altering the genetic integrity of native species. The costs of these silent invaders are ecologically and economically high.

At Grays Harbor NWR, staff and volunteers band together to effectively manage invasive species infestations. Besides controlling the weeds that already exist on the Refuge, we also survey for new weed occurrences and monitor our management actions to determine their effectiveness. The most important aspect of weed control is prevention. By knowing which weeds are a threat to the Refuge, and the current locations of weeds on the Refuge, we can detect new species and occurrences before they become large and difficult to manage.

We do all this with the help of trained volunteers – called Refuge Weed Warriors – who know how to identify the weeds that we are concerned about, how to report infestations to refuge managers, and how to control the weeds once they are properly assessed and documented. Refuge Weed Warriors are trained by Refuge staff in plant identification, reasons for concern, methods of transport and control, and reporting procedures.

If you are interested in learning more about the Refuge Weed Warrior program, please contact the Refuge office at (360) 753-9467.