Residents and tourists are being asked to pull together next week to help reduce the number of invasive plants on the Kenai Peninsula.
“People should be aware of what’s at stake,” said Janice Chumley, an integrated pest management technician with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service and a weed scout with the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District.
“Invasive plants can change how we live by harming the economy and the environment,” she said.
Invasive plants are those that aren’t native to an area and spread aggressively, often displacing other plants an animals as they go.
Chumley said invasive plants can degrade wildlife and fish habitat, reduce water quality, restrict outdoor recreation and tourism, lower land values and increase wildlife frequency and intensity, which is why they must be stopped. To this end, the cooperative extension office has designated June 24-30 as Alaska Weed Awareness week.
“We’re kicking off the week with Dandelion Sundae this Sunday at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge,” she said.
Dandelion Sundae takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. at refuge headquarters on Ski Hill Road in Soldotna. Everyone who brings in a plastic grocery bag full of dandelion flowers and seed heads will receive a free ice cream sundae. Prizes will be awarded for the greatest family total, picking the most plants with roots, and picking invasives at the most sensitive sites such as at trailheads or backcountry locations.
Chumley said free invasive plant guides will be available at this event and through the week from the cooperative extension office on Kalifornsky Beach Road. These full-color guides can aid in mapping locations of other invasive plants, such as Canada thistle, tansy, toadflax, oxeye daisy, narrowleaf hawksbeard, orange hawkweed, hempnettle, bird vetch and others.
“We also have lots of other books and materials on invasive plants, how to organize a community weed pull and how to garden by planting for a desired effect without using invasive species,” Chumley said.
For more information on Alaska Weed Awareness week, contact Chumley at 262-5824.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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