Utility opens offensive against knotweed

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Clark Public Utilities has declared war — on a weed. Funded by a $74,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the utility's Eradication Nation program aims to stop Japanese knotweed in its tracks.

Knotweed, listed in the top 100 of the world's worst invasive species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is identifiable by its bamboolike stalks, broad oval leaves and small white flowers. The weed grows quickly, displacing native plants.

Through the utility's StreamTeam program, the eradication group will focus on the Salmon Creek watershed this summer, applying herbicide and surveying new infestation areas using GPS equipment.

Erica Erland, corporate communications manager for Clark Public Utilities, said while most landowners in the Salmon Creek area are familiar with other invasive weeds

such as Himalayan blackberry and English ivy, the Japanese knotweed infestation is more worrisome due to the weed's aggressive and damaging nature.

"The knotweed is crazy," Erland said. "It grows so fast and is really hard to kill, so this group has their work cut out for them."

The eradication group comprises community members and nonprofit organizations dedicated to removing non-native plants from the area. However, more volunteers are needed to keep the weed in check.

"We have a core of dedicated volunteers working with us to find and fight knotweed, but we need more help," said Bethany Lund, invasive species coordinator at Clark Public Utilities. "Far more aggressive and harder to control than Himalayan blackberry, Japanese knotweed grows up to three inches per day and will travel 20 feet in every direction, pushing through concrete, with roots eight feet deep."

Volunteers can participate by joining in surveying events on Saturdays in June and July, and treatment events from June through September. Training and required licenses will be provided.

For more information, call 360-992-8787 or visit Stream Team.