Removing invasive weeds from Bend’s natural vegetation is an ongoing battle.

At the 14th annual Let’s Pull Together event Saturday, volunteers at Pilot Butte State Park and the Old Mill District filled yellow trash bags with as many noxious weeds as they could pull. The most commonly found were spotted knapweed, thistle, mullein and dalmatian toadflax.

Cheryl Howard, event coordinator for Let’s Pull Together, said the annual event educates people about the different weeds that choke out the native vegetation in the region. Once people know what to look for, they start to notice noxious weeds and pull them out while on a walk or hike, Howard said.

“The focus of this event is to demonstrate which ones are natives and why they are beneficial and which ones are noxious, non-native invasives.” Howard said.

Volunteers in the Old Mill District spent Saturday walking along the path on the west side of the river, pulling weeds from the native grasses near the riverbed. Even in a well-maintained area such as the Old Mill District, invasive weeds can still thrive, Howard said.

“These plants are invasive and they are invasive because they can even get into exceptionally well-maintained areas,” Howard said.

Spotted knapweed is especially nasty because it crowds out native plants, taking over large areas.

Many animals do not eat knapweed, so they will starve in areas where it is overgrown. In addition, knapweed is highly flammable, which can help start powerful wildfires.

“Why should we show up on a beautiful Saturday and pull weeds? That’s why,” Howard said. “Because we are surrounded with national forest here, and surrounded with natural beauty and we have a responsibility to take care of it.”

Let’s Pull Together also included weed-pulling at Pilot Butte.

Caryn Lee, a retired Bend resident, came to the weed-pulling event for the first time Saturday. It may sound odd, but she loves weeding, she said while pulling weeds in the Old Mill District.

She was careful not to accidentally pull a native plant such as yarrow, a white wildflower or blue flax flowers.

“I like pulling weeds because it’s instant satisfaction.” Lee said. “I’m just trying to do my part, but be cautious so I don’t undo nature.”

Lee and dozens of other volunteers enjoyed a sunny Saturday for the event. Rain or shine, Lee said, she would have joined in the weed-pulling effort.

“I doesn’t even matter that it is a nice day. I would have come if it wasn’t a nice day because we all need to do our part and I feel strongly about that,” Lee said.

Jan’el Morris, a paralegal at the Bend law firm Dwyer Williams Dretke, and her friend Leslie Replin, a legal assistant at the same law firm, joined the event Saturday for the fifth consecutive year.

Standing together on the walking path in the Old Mill District, they joked that they have been pulling weeds there since before all of the nearby condominiums were built.

Replin said she has seen a difference in the amount of weeds in the Old Mill District, mostly due to the new developments. Each year there seems to be less weeds, she said, which is good news for the volunteers.

“There used to be a lot more knapweeds, but since they have landscaped and developed over there it’s not as bad as it once was,” Replin said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820,