In August 2009, I noticed clumps of plants blooming near my house. I recognized it as the same plant that I’d seen in Montana: spotted knapweed, a Class A invasive weed that out-competes our native vegetation and destroys natural ecosystems.
I reported the infestation to the Lake Tahoe Basin Weed Control Group, Placer County, my homeowners association, the local utilities district and Northstar-at-Tahoe.
Placer County sent Keith Kohler, Senior Ag Inspector to look at the problem. Several homeowners volunteered to top the plants and double-bag them. Placer County collected the plants and buried them in the Pest Pit in Sacramento so that the seeds would not infest other areas.
The next year, Placer County sprayed the area with a safe, targeted herbicide and removed some plants by hand. I also removed plants according to Placer County’s instructions.
In 2010, I found fewer total plants but some had spread to new locations. It seemed we were losing the battle! However, the Northstar Community Services District held a training session for their own employees and employees from the homeowners association and Northstar-at-Tahoe.
This coordinated effort worked and together we reduced the population from hundreds of plants in 2009 to about 120 in 2010. To achieve 100% success, we need to completely eradicate this population of spotted knapweed and re-vegetate the area to reduce the opportunity for spotted knapweed and other invasive weeds to establish themselves.
Musk thistle is an “A” rated weed (highly invasive, but worth the effort to control). The infestation on Boca Hill was discovered 1994. It probably spread to Boca Hill after the Highway Fire in 1977. The infestation has been somewhat controlled on but smaller occurrences have spread to the shores of Boca and Stampede Reservoirs.
The infestation on Boca Hill gained in numbers and the wind spread the seeds. The now inhabits over 100 acres between Bear Valley Campground near Sierraville to locations near Loyalton and down to Reno, Nevada.
Since 2002, the U.S.F.S. Tahoe National Forest has a crew of two or three to map and hand pull musk thistle for about six weeks.. A few years ago, we started Boca Hill Weed Days to bring in additional support. We started at of the southeast of Boca Hill and have been able shift the outlet below Boca Dam.
Much progress has been made, but a lot of work still needs to be done.
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