IVM Technical Bulletin
Educate Vegetation Management Personnel and the Public
Educating range managers, landowners, workers on the land, and the general public about their role in monitoring and controlling the problem will increase the success of a vegetation management program. The following are some of the strategies that can be employed.
Workshops have successfully increased awareness of noxious weed problems and educated participants about prevention and management techniques. The Western Society of Weed Science in Montana, and New Mexico State University at Las Cruces have both conducted noxious weed short courses. For more information call the Western Society of Weed Science, 406-443-1469, or New Mexico State University, Dept. of Agriculture and Home Economics at 505-646-1807.
Facilitate cooperation and enlist the help of range personnel in identifying problems that can lead to weed infestations. This can save time and money. Crews can be trained to look for infestations. It is also important to acknowledge that cooperation often means extra work for them.
Fact sheets are a valuable sources of information that can be easily distributed to the public. Include information on the biology of the plant, why it is a concern, how to identify the plant, where to look for it, prevention techniques, treatment methods, and how the public can get involved by volunteering, or helping to monitor by reporting new infestations.
Involve the community through environmental groups, 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and high school students who have to fulfill community service requirements. These groups can help perform labor-intensive weed control with minimal training. The same groups can make commitments to keeping sections of roadway free of weeds similar to Adopt-a-Highway programs for litter control.
Lacey et al. (1988) described how bounty programs in Montana successfully involved the community in a cost-effective monitoring and early treatment program for newly invading spotted knapweed. The bounty program encouraged monitoring with a $5 reward for every unmapped infestation and $50 if the "bounty hunter" could persuade the landowner to control knapweed infestations. During its first year, Stillwater County reported a $4,500 savings in the county weed budget.
These bounty programs were successful in finding and treating newly invading weeds, but for widespread weeds the program was modified by educating local high school students to help with weed control efforts. For example, $300 was given to a local wrestling club for digging out large areas of knapweed.
In Columbus, Montana, high school students have been involved in weed control efforts since 1990. Students map weed infestations using aerial photographs, study and monitor bio-control insects and pathogens, and work on DNA testing and biotechnology. Not only are students contributing to monitoring and weed control efforts, but they also gain valuable skills in preparation for the job market or careers in research. This investment in the education of young people results in greater public awareness that contributes to a concerted effort against weeds. For more information on incorporating education and the community to help control weeds, curriculum guidelines, or starter kits, contact Jim Larson at Columbus High School, Box 899, Columbus, Montana 59019.
Computer software can be a useful tool in understanding the interwoven processes that regulate weed populations. YST is an educational computer program that demonstrates the interactions between weed population processes, plant interactions, and weed management options. Users are able to change conditions or parameters of the weed's biology, select different control methods, and observe the outcome of various integrated weed management programs. This program can run on most IBM compatible computers with a color graphics card. A free copy of the YST software can be downloaded from the Internet at ftp://weedeco.msu.montana.edu (Maxwell 1998; Jacobs et al. 1997). NOTE: This link was included in the original printed document and is no longer available.