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Spreading word about weeds.

Byline: Jill Aho The Register-Guard

It's a growing problem.

It's easy to see the effects of some invasive species - such as those impossible to eradicate blackberry vines or the English ivy creeping up the big oak tree - while others have yet to take hold in much of Lane County.

A workshop held Saturday at the Wetlands Project Office, 751 South Danebo Ave., instructed volunteer spotters how to detect species that may be headed for local habitats.

The West Eugene Early Detection of Invasives Network, or WEEDIN, is the latest to be added to a growing list of programs in which volunteers seek out specific species that have been proven in other areas to be wildly devastating to native plants and natural habitats, forever changing the way those areas support wildlife.

"Invasive species don't respect property boundaries," Tania Siemens of the The Nature Conservancy and Oregon State University Sea Grant Extension said. Siemens has been lugging around examples of invasive plants to presentations throughout Oregon to increase her network of invasives watchers. She told about 25 people at the workshop that invasive species are plants living outside their historic native areas that cause economic and environmental problems.

"We need as many people as possible out there looking for these as you're hiking, or biking or in your yard," she said. Invasive species are the threat behind 40 percent of threatened species in Oregon, which Siemens said is eighth in the country for plant diversity.

Tim Foelker of Eugene said he recently finished OSU's Master Gardener program and attended the workshop to add to his knowledge about invasives.

"I was surprised at the number of invasives that there are that the majority of the population aren't aware of," he said. He hopes more people will take an interest in learning which plants belong in Oregon, and which ones do not.

"It's about having that plant where you do or don't want it to be and controlling that habitat," said Jules Abbott, an employee of Willamette Resources and Educational Network.

Tim Downey, a volunteer site host sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management, cares for the Wetlands Project lands and often does outreach on the bike paths in the area.

"Now we have a lot more information about non-native plants that plague this place," he said. "We can let people know that in their own gardens they may have plants that may naturalize here."

The workshop focused on learning to identify unwanted weeds and how and where to report a sighting. Siemen stressed documentation of the area and the size of the infestation. She said the most common areas to find these plants thriving are along fence lines, trailheads and boat docks. She wants volunteers to look for new infestations and unknown plants.

"These are the plants that we will want to actually do something about," she said, stressing there's no need to report ivy, blackberry or scotch broom plants, which have invaded Oregon pretty thoroughly.

Vivian MacKenzie of Eugene knew very little about invasive species before she attended the workshop.

She was impressed that "they're thinking in the future what's coming, not just what's here," she said. MacKenzie planned to tell her friends who hike what to look out for "just to make them more aware of what's going on around them."

That was one thing Siemens hoped all attendees would do with their new knowledge.

"We want to spread the word, not the weed," she said.

Be on the lookout

What to look for: Medusahead, Herb Robert, shining geranium, meadow knapweed, spurge laurel, garlic mustard, false brome, water primrose willow, lesser celandine, purple loosestrife, yellow and Maltese starthistles, yellow flag iris.

Resources:; Oregon Department of Agriculture noxious weed list at; The Nature Conservancy's Oregon Invasives Watchers Program Web site at; Oregon Public Broadcasting's Web page for "The Silent Invasion" series at
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Title Annotation:City/Region; A workshop teaches people how to recognize invasive plant species and stop their spread into native plant habitats
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 20, 2008
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