Deschutes County has its share of noxious weeds, from the light purple knapweed to the yellow toadflax. Now two new water plants have been added to the list, though county officials say that, with vigilance, we may be able to stop them in their tracks.
Yellow floating heart, which has been discovered in the Redmond area, lives in rivers, ponds and swampy areas, while water primrose — also yellow — takes root in ponds, ditches and along lake edges. It has been found in Terrebonne. Both, says Ed Keith, the county’s forester and vegetation manager, could have been brought in by birds from Lane, Linn or Douglas counties, the only other places in the state with the weeds.
The county and state plan to go after the two aggressively, perhaps as soon as next week. Because the two plants are perennials, simply pulling them, draining ponds or turning ditches off will not work, Keith says. There’s too great a risk that roots will remain in the soil to bounce back next year. To prevent that, the two agencies will use an aquatic herbicide designed to kill roots as well as plant tops.
So why care? The two plants are, after all, pretty in their own way.
Yes, but. Like all noxious weeds, this pair damages the native environment. They can reduce the dissolved oxygen in water around them, choking out fish and invertebrates that call water home. They can reduce food for waterfowl by diminishing the areas in which native plants can grow. They can reduce fishing access, clog boating waterways and render swimming areas unusable. And they make the water in which they live a grand new habitat for mosquitoes.
The goal in Deschutes County is to eradicate the two long before they find their way into local native waters, among them the Deschutes River.
Officials cannot do the job alone. Local property owners should check their own ditches and ponds, and if they suspect either of the two is present, get in touch with Keith at 541-322-7117 or Mike Crumrine, the Oregon Department of Agriculture integrated weed management coordinator, at 541-604-6580. Keith also may be reached by email, EdK@deschutes.org.