Noxious and invasive weeds are problems of increasing concern in Alaska. Districts are working together with other organizations, including the Alaska Committee for Noxious and Invasive Plant Management, to combat invasive weeds.
Noxious (harmful) and invasive plants are a threat to indigenous (native) plants, wildlife and to natural resources in Alaska. Invasive plants damage and destroy habitat, cause economic loss and are a major factor in the decline of some plant and animal species. While Alaska had seemed insulated from the damaging effects of invasive plants, evidence across the state shows that introduced plants are having a detrimental impact in many areas, and all areas are at risk.
Not all noxious and invasive weeds are ugly. Many weeds have spread in Alaska because they have been propagated for their pretty flowers and their ability to spread quickly to cover bare roadsides. Other invasive species have arrived in non-certified commercial seeds, in bales of hay and straw, and even on vehicles tires. Once established, these invaders are difficult to control.
To help combat this problem, AACD, the Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Alaska and their partners are working together to educate the public and develop integrated management plans to reduce the introduction and spread of noxious and invasive weeds in Alaska.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts and other organizations form Cooperative Weed Management Areas (CWMAs). These units, which include local governments and other resource partners, address specific weed issues in their respective areas.
AACD’s Invasive Plant Program (IPP) grants support the formation of Cooperative Weed Management Areas (CWMA) and weed management work related to inventory, control, and educational outreach. The efforts of CWMAs across the state initiate and organize control projects that encompass multiple land managers. IPP grants can be used on all lands in Alaska except federal lands. Examples of projects completed with IPP funds by CWMAs in Alaska include: Garlic Mustard Control in Juneau, Canada thistle control in Homer, and development of an invasive plant curricula for grades 9-12.
Grants are scored by a technical advisory committee consisting of AACD representatives and University of Alaska Fairbanks, Cooperative Extension Service experts in weed control. High scoring proposals have clear attainable goals. Inventory, control, and eradication work should focus on high priority species. Education and outreach work should be directed at key audiences such as agricultural producers, outdoor recreationists, gardeners, and youth.