In its second year, the local weed bounty program doubled its success, with volunteers pulling more than 7,000 pounds of noxious weeds this summer.
Just as last summer, county residents were offered a financial incentive to remove spotted knapweed, houndstongue and common mullein from the ecosystem.
“This was no small feat, and the weed bounty program paid out over $4,000 to participants for their efforts,” said Thad Berrett, U.S. Forest Service rangeland management specialist. “While the total pounds of weeds seems impressive, it does the program an injustice to not think about it in terms of the number of seeds that volunteers were able to keep from reaching the ground.”
Berrett estimates that roughly 8 million houndstongue seeds, 250,000 knapweed seeds and 263 million were kept from spreading more noxious weeds throughout Johnson County in 2020.
Rod Litzel, Johnson County Weed and Pest supervisor, said the program aids his department.
“The value for us, is that it’s that much less pesticide we’re putting out in the environment,” Litzel said.
Last week, the three families that pulled the most weeds were honored with additional cash prizes.
This summer's top puller was the April Carter family, who pulled over 1,400 pounds of weeds.
“It’s hard work, and we all sneeze,” said sixth grader Hadlee Carter.
Second place went to the family of Joyce Hall, and third place was the family of Desira Light.
A joint program of the Weed and Pest District, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Buffalo Trails Board, Powder River Conservation District, Clear Creek Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation District, the program also increases community knowledge of noxious weeds and management practices.
The invasive species are probably familiar to anyone who gets out for a walk regularly. They 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, as well as on BLM and state lands around the middle fork of the Powder River west of Kaycee.
“We cannot combat the noxious weeds in the county by ourselves,” Berrett said. “The good folks at Johnson County Weed and Pest need your help in reducing their impact on the ecosystem.”