Forest Service doing some weeding in Central Oregon

Invasive plants are sprayed or pulled by hand in Ochoco, Deschutes forests

By Dylan J. Darling / The Bulletin / @DylanJDarling

The U.S. Forest Service is continuing its war on weeds in Central Oregon, focusing this year on invasive plants growing along forest roads.

“That’s basically because that’s where invasive weeds most often start,” said Patrick Lair, spokesman for the Ochoco National Forest in Prineville. “They are brought in by vehicle tires.”

Officials at the Ochoco, as well as the Deschutes National Forest and the Crooked River National Grassland, plan to treat weeds this year on a combined 5,016 acres. Treating means spraying or applying herbicide to the plants, or yanking them from the ground.

In 2012, leaders at the Ochoco and Deschutes national forests and the Crooked River grassland approved expanded treatment of invasive weeds. The plan this year is to use herbicide on 2,496 acres and manually pull weeds on another 2,520 acres, according to the Ochoco National Forest.

“The vast majority of herbicide treatment will consist of spot-spraying weeds along road shoulders with the herbicide Transline,” Sarah Callaghan, invasive plant program manager for the two forests and the grassland, said in a news release.

Not native to Central Oregon, the weeds crowd out native plants .

The list of unwanted plants includes cheatgrass and Medusa head, Lair said. Add spotted knapweed and orange hawkweed, said Mike Crumrine, invasive plant manager in Prineville for the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

The state agency is among the groups helping the Forest Service with its invasive plant program. Also involved are Crook, Jefferson and Deschutes counties, as well as volunteers.

Crumrine has been going after weeds around the Bend-Fort Rock and Sisters ranger districts in the Deschutes National Forest.

“The bulk of the work is spotted knapweed,” he said.

He has also been trying to stop the spread of orange hawkweed along the Deschutes River from Sunriver upstream to Pringle Falls. When it comes to treating weeds along rivers and other waterways, Crumrine said, he’ll either wipe herbicides onto the plants or tug them out by hand.

“Most of the time it’s hand-pulling,” he said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7812, ddarling@bendbulletin.com