If you’ve ever spotted knapweed, mulled around for mullein, hounded houndstongue or weeded out weeds, the Johnson County Weed and Pest District has the perfect opportunity for you.
The district is partnering with numerous local agencies to offer its inaugural weed bounty program from May 20 to Aug. 15. The program, which mirrors successful programs implemented in Natrona and Lincoln counties last year, gives Johnson County residents the opportunity to collect three different species of noxious weeds in the county and reap the benefits.
“We think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” District Supervisor Rod Litzel said. “It will bring a lot of awareness to folks about these invasive species and provide an opportunity for them to engage in weed control without having to spray.”
County residents are being asked to pick three kinds of invasive weeds: spotted knapweed, houndstongue and common mullein, Litzel said. The spread of all three species can be effectively controlled through pulling, as long as you do so before they go to seed in late August, Litzel said.
Starting May 20, weed and pest will pay 50 cents for each pound of weeds collected. Weeds must be bagged in clear bags that are supplied by the district. Each participant will be given as many as six bags. Bags will be weighed at the weed and pest office from 7 a.m. to noon Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Litzel said.
In addition to picking the three species of weeds, weed bounty participants will also be rewarded for reporting new locations of ventenata or medusahead grasses, Litzel said. Those who report verified new locations will receive $50.
All the invasive species can be easily found throughout the county, including along the Clear Creek trail system, at the Mosier Gulch day-use area and at the Bud Love Wildlife Management Habitat area, according to Dusty Kavitz with the Bureau of Land Management, which is one of the co-sponsors of the program.
“There are a lot of publicly accessible areas where weeds can be collected – from Mosier Gulch to Poison Creek,” Kavitz said. “All of Middle Fork Canyon is covered in weeds.”
The weed and pest district will provide maps of potential weed-collecting locations, Litzel said. Private landowners are also encouraged to look for the weeds on their properties.
“We want to address weeds throughout the county on both private and public property,” Litzel said. “We don’t care what landownership they come from, as long as you’re not trespassing on private property to collect them.”
While the district will accept weed collections starting May 20, the official kickoff for the weed collection season will be held on June 8, according to Thad Berett, with the U.S. Forest Service, which is another partner on the project.
The “Noxious Weed Pull Day” will start at 8:30 a.m. at the Forest Service parking lot. Attendees will be broken into groups and assigned portions of the Buffalo trail system to hike and collect weeds on. At 11:30 a.m., a free barbecue will be held at Washington Park. During the barbecue, weeds will be weighed and awards will be handed out to the top weed collectors.
The weed and pest district, Forest Service and BLM are just a few of the weed bounty program’s sponsors, according to Litzel. Clear Creek Conservation District, Wyoming Game & Fish, the University of Wyoming extension office, Buffalo Trails Board and Natural Resources Conservation Services are also sponsors.
“We really believe we can make a difference through this program, and that’s why we’ve come together on this,” Berrett said. “We’re pretty excited about this and hope people want to participate.”
Collection bags, maps and more information about the program can be picked up at the weed and pest district office at 123 Flatiron Drive starting May 20.