We at the Yakima County Noxious Weed Control Board believe that education and public relations are key elements in the fight against invasive species.
If landowners don’t know the plant is a problem, they don’t know that is has to be controlled. We aim to work with landowners to identify problem species as well as help develop control plans to deal with them.
In order to educate the public about plants that have been deemed invasive, we have inspectors who look for the bad ones and work with the landowners when we find plants of concern. However, we would like to encourage the education prior to finding said plants in the fields and on the roadsides of Yakima County. By the time we can see them from a roadside, they are probably close to reproduction.
Our office offers presentations and field visits to educate landowners and residents in Yakima County about plants of concern. We tailor presentations to groups based on age and interests: for example, talking to 4-H clubs, FFA chapters, after-school garden/horticulture clubs, science and ag classes, road associations, Rotary clubs, irrigation districts, and landowner groups, clubs and associations. Presentations can be specific about certain topics: i.e. escaped ornamental plants, toxic plants that threaten our families and pets, problem plants in pastures or on roadsides, how invasive plants affect our environment, ecology, habitats, etc.
We attend functions such as farm days, fairs and fun days throughout the county to make public contacts. We are here to help control the invasion of noxious weeds.
If you have plants you want to have identified, we will visit your site and possibly take samples and photos of the infestation. If we do not know what the plant is, we will take samples and photos back to the office and contact plant scientists for further identification. Landowners can contact our office with questions at any time.
Quite often, describing the plant over the phone will do the trick. Be sure to include the shape of the stem: Is it round, rigged, jointed? Is the leaf fuzzy, waxy, rough, smooth, heart-shaped, round, pointed, long and narrow? Does it grow upright or spread out on the ground? Is it woody? Does it have white sap when broken?
If you bring us a sample, please include the following:
• The entire plant if possible. Include root, stems, leaves, flowers if flowering, and seeds if they have gone to seed. (We hope to identify plants prior to going to seed to prevent potential problems)
• Information about where it was found: pasture, lawn, landscape, roadside, ditch bank, creek, pond, forest, desert, irrigated farmland, etc.
Place the entire plant in a plastic bag with some dry paper or paper towel. If you cannot get it to us the day you collect it, place the bag in the refrigerator and bring it in as soon as possible. Do not put water in the bag unless it’s a plant growing in the water; a plant placed in water in a zip-close bag and left on the floorboard of your vehicle often turns to green goo before we see it. Do not throw the plant on your dashboard and then forget about it for a week and expect us to identify it.
If you would like to send us a photo of the plant in question, please include the entire plant in the area where it is growing, then photos with a neutral backdrop; hold it with a white or neutral-colored wall behind it away from other plants that may not be the same. Provide a size reference in the photo, whether it’s your hand, an ink pen, a coin or other object that shows the size of the plant, flower, leaf, etc.
You can send photos via email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure the subject line includes “for plant identification.” If you wish to text the photos, call our office for the inspectors’ cellphone numbers, and give the plant description to our personnel in the office.
If you would like to have a presentation given to your group or have a display at a function, contact Susan Bird, outreach and education specialist, for scheduling and discuss the interests, ages and size of the group or event. Education and public relations are our goals. Building communications with the residents of our county is essential to noxious weed control. We are here to help.