EDRR in the Utah National Guard - Treating Invasive Species as Biological Wildfire
At Camp Williams, responsibility for noxious weed mitigation falls primarily on the Department of Public Works (DPW) per Department of Army policy, but Environmental Resource Management (ERM) and Integrated Training Area Management (ITAM) have some responsibilities. Resources and concern for weed treatment is relatively scarce due to other priorities. ERM has taken the lead using the analogy of weeds as wildfire to inform decisions. As one of our primary tools, the Utah National Guard puts a great deal of effort into early detection and rapid response (EDRR) for detecting invasive species early and quickly responding. As examples, purple star thistle, with long spines that can inhibit training, and St John’s Wort, are both priority invasive species with county weed agents. These species were detected early, when the infestation was only a quarter acre. Finding and controlling early resulted in expenditures less than $1,000 each. Musk and Scotch thistles are other important invasive species that have readiness implications due to thorns that inhibit training. These species have been “raging” and expanding for years. Confusion in the mid-2000s about management responsibilities allowed these later species to exceed 1,000 acres (mostly sparse), located primarily along roads allowing further spread but also small “spot fires” across the landscape. With a recent grant, DPW and ERM sprayed almost 700 acres this past year at an estimated cost around $100,000. Our units continues to carefully monitor these species, as each unaffected, remaining plants can produce 30-50 flower heads with hundreds of individual flowers and seeds.