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Becker County Soil and Water District Agriculture Inspector Marsha Watland points out an invasive species during one of four tours she gave last week, teaching people about how to control the plants.

Some invasives deemed toxic to environment

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region Park Rapids,Minnesota 56470
Park Rapids Enterprise
Some invasives deemed toxic to environment
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

From the thistle, clover and dandelions that invade our pristinely green residential lawns, to the curly leaf pondweed, Eurasian milfoil and zebra mussels that clog up area lakes and rivers, invasive species are a recurring nuisance in many ways.


But some of these invaders, known as noxious weeds, can have an effect on the environment that's more than a nuisance -- it's downright toxic.

Take wild parsnip, for instance. Unlike its domestic vegetable counterpart, this invasive weed can cause a nasty rash and blistering to both humans and animals when its sap comes in contact with the skin. The sap reacts with sunlight and causes a condition known as photodermatitis.

Other weeds can cause even more severe toxic reactions when ingested or exposed to the skin.

For the past three years, the Becker County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has been focusing its efforts to control some of the more pervasive species of noxious and invasive weeds, through grants from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation's Pulling Together Initiative and the Minnesota Board of Soil & Water Resources (BWSR).

This past Tuesday and Wednesday, SWCD Agriculture Inspector Marsha Watland conducted a series of four tours in the county, to show township supervisors, weed inspectors and other interested individuals what has been done to treat invasive plants in Becker County under the Pulling Together Initiative, including what is working, and what is not.

Through a combination of herbicide treatment and mechanical and biological controls, the County SWCD has seen much success in its efforts to control not only wild parsnip, but also spotted knapweed, common tansy, leafy spurge and crown vetch.

According to Watland, these are the weeds that have caused the most problems in Becker County's agricultural areas over the past three years -- with wild parsnip being the most difficult to eradicate.

The tours basically split the county into four areas, with each one concentrating on the weed issues specific to that area. The four tours included:

• Wolf Lake, Spruce Grove and Runeberg townships, focusing on common tansy control and the gravel pit certification program in that area;

• Carsonville and Green Valley townships, concentrating on spotted knapweed control, gravel pit certification and working with area ATV and snowmobile groups on identifying problem areas for weed control.

• Callaway and surrounding areas, focusing on thistle management, common tansy and wild parsnip treatment areas, biological controls for spotted knapweed, and gravel pit certification.

• Lake Eunice Township and surrounding areas, concentrating on gravel pit certification, leafy spurge, spotted knapweed and wild parsnip treatment areas.

Watland said she relies on local township weed inspectors to help her keep an inventory of problem areas for weed infestation.

For more information, contact Watland at 846-7360.