The Tonto Weed Management Area has received a $25,300 grant to weed out three noxious plants in Gila County.
Match that against the $31,500 the TWMA partnership has raised in labor, equipment and funds and this could be a bad year for the prolific enemies of agriculture and wildlife.
The money will go to battle an estimated 25 acres of Dalmation Toad Flax, 180 acres of Diffuse Knapweed and 1,784 acres of the notorious noxious weed, Yellow Starthistle, said Jim Sprinkle, area agent for the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.
These weeds are predators to native plants and destroy the natural ecosystem, Sprinkle said. But because the infestation is relatively small, he and the TWMA see a window of opportunity to stop the intruders before wide-scale damage occurs.
The weeds have moved from north to south and from east to west across the United States, leaving Arizona as one of the last places to deal with infestation, Sprinkle said. In other states, these types of weeds have taken over millions of acres and can affect agriculture, wildlife and even property values.
With funds in hand, the TWMA has four objectives:
- Educate property owners about awareness, prevention, detection and control;
- Identify and map all areas of infestation;
- Contain the infestation by creating parameters of control; and
- Attack the infestation using a combination of digging, burning and herbicides.
The battlegrounds include Young, areas of Cherry Creek, Houston Creek in Star Valley and on Ox Bow Hill, Sprinkle said. His chief concern is that when the mapping process begins, the amount of known infested acreage could double.
"One plant of Yellow Starthistle can produce 100,000 seeds," Sprinkle said. They generally spread through creeks and highways and once in place can survive better than native plants, stealing precious moisture from the locals.
For more information about the weeds, how to identify them or to join the fight, call Sprinkle at 474-4160.