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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

High alert for bird dog owners: Cheatgrass in full bloom

HUNTING DOGS — The national plant of veterinarians across the West is in full bloom.

Cheatgrass that was only a spotty problem two weeks ago has been cured by the recent heat wave and I can tell you from personal experience that it's at full capacity to inflict harm on your dog's ears, toes, nose and other body parts.

I'm plugging my dogs' ears with cotton for even the shortest romp, and checking them thoroughly afterward, especially between the toes.

I'll be suspending most field dog training and doing most of my dog's physical conditioning by taking him hiking in the mountains and throwing retrieving dummies into lakes.

The extreme danger to dogs will continue until some point in August when wind and pounding thunderstorms drive most of the seed spears to the ground.

Ada County calls on residents to help fight ‘flat-out noxious’ puncture vine

Puncture vine, the noxious weed that produces the notorious "goat heads" that routinely flatten bicyclists' tires in Ada County, can do even more harm to sheep, cattle, hay and crops, Ada County warns. The county is calling on residents to find puncture vine on their property and pull it before it begins producing seeds and the sharp burrs that contain them. The county also advises that after pulling the weeds, dropped burrs can be removed by sweeping or raking the ground, then patting the ground with a piece of carpet to collect the burrs; they and the plants should then be placed in a plastic bag in the trash. Read the county's full warning here, which calls the plant "flat-out noxious" and "one of the most annoying of toxic weeds."

Neighbornhood workshop on fire risk reduction for the High Drive Bluff on Thursday

URBAN FORESTS — The Friends of the High Drive Bluff are organizing a discussion on the proposed Fire Risk Reduction Plan for that popular South Hill recreation area on Thursday, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m., at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, 5720 S. Perry St.

Anyone interested in the Bluff is welcome and encouraged to participate.
Last spring, community members identified fire risk reduction as a high priority for the Bluff and for neighboring homes. Attend this workshop to learn details of the plan, get answers to your questions, and learn how you can help with the project.

Contact: Diana Roberts, WSU Spokane County Extension, (509) 477-2167, email robertsd@wsu.edu

Volunteers tackle weeds on South Hill bluff trails tonight

TRAILS — Hikers and bikers are attracted to the trails on the South Hill bluff below High Drive — and so are noxious weeds!

Consider joining the group of volunteers donating some time to help manage the weed problem with a little muscle power.

The group met last week and the project continues TONIGHT.

Meet at 6:30 pm at Polly Judd Park at 1732 West 14th Ave. At 8 pm we will adjourn to the Rocket Market (or somewhere you suggest) for a beverage and to socialize!

"This week we will cut spotted knapweed plants away from sections of the trail where they are impeding trail use," said facilitator Diana Roberts of the WSU County Extension. "We will create a demonstration area that will be sprayed with herbicide next spring to impede weed growth along the trail."

Bring work gloves, sturdy garden clippers, and water to drink. Long pants, long sleeved shirts, and hiking boots are the recommended attire.
Info: Diana Roberts, (509) 477-2167 or email robertsd@wsu.edu.

Wash vehicles to reduce spread of weeds

CONSERVATION — Vehicles can pick up large numbers of seeds from weeds and other plants and spread them for miles, especially when the vehicles are driven off-trail and under wet conditions.

This factor in the spread of noxious weeks is documented in a story in a new Montana State University Extension publication describing field studies that measure the extent to which vehicles pick up and disperse weed seeds.

Some of the findings include:

  • Wet conditions promote weed attachment to vehicles.
  • ATVs picked up large numbers of seeds. In the fall, up to 5,500 seeds per mile were picked up off-trail compared to about 400 seeds per mile on-trail. The number of seeds picked up in spring was much lower.
  • Tracked vehicles picked up more seeds than wheeled vehicles.
  • Up to 99 percent of seeds stayed attached to a truck after traveling 160 miles under dry conditions, but seed retention was much lower after traveling long distances under wet conditions.
  • However, if seeds are picked up in mud, which then dries on the vehicle, they can travel almost indefinitely until it rains or the road surface is wet, allowing for extremely long distance transport of seeds.

The researchrs say preventing the spread of weeds into non-infested areas is the most effective and efficient way to manage weeds over the long term.

To help prevent the spread of weeds, washing vehicles frequently is beneficial with particular concentration on wheel wells. Washing vehicles is especially important before and after driving on roads with high densities of weeds along the edges or after driving off-road or trail.