PUD Partners with Weed Board to Remove Invasives

This past March and April, the PUD teamed up with the Noxious Weed Board and the Washington Conservation Corps to remove invasive species and improve conditions for native plants along the PUD’s 12-mile-long transmission line corridor.

Joost Besijn, WSU’s Noxious Weed Board Director, managed the project with PUD Assistant General Manager Kevin Streett. Besijn described the collaboration as “perfect timing.”

“Another year and the project would have been 2-3 times more difficult and expensive,” said Besijn. “This was the last possible year for us to manually pull the invasive scotch broom, and we got to it before it was able to lay down a seed bed.”

Scotch broom seed is viable for 80 years, said Besijn. The Weed Board also removed a large patch of poison hemlock just north of the airport, preventing it from spreading south.

“Invasive species thrive in areas where habitat has been disturbed,” said Besijn. He explained that the PUD’s transmission corridor is by nature a disturbed area, and that a number of invasives were able to move in after the PUD’s last mowed the area in 2015.

“Mowing can be an effective control tool,” said Besijn, “but it’s also a double-edged sword. Invasives like Japanese knotweed and wild chervil can be spread by mowing. Our preferred method of control is to remove the invasives and then replant with natives, or in the case of the PUD’s transmission corridor, create better conditions for existing native plants to fill in.”

Besijn noted that native plants like snowberries, salal, native roses and sword ferns already exist in the corridor and will be helped by the removal of competing invasives. Under ideal conditions, low growing shrubby native plants like these can provide a healthy low maintenance understory for the transmission corridor, reducing weed pressure and future maintenance costs for the PUD.

“It’s a win-win as far as I am concerned,” said Streett. “The PUD’s priority is keeping the access clear, but we don’t serve our customers well if weeds spread up and down our right-of-way. Partnering with the Weed Board has provided us a more well-rounded approach to managing the vegetation. The corridor looks really good right now.”

Besijn concurred with Streett: “Working with the PUD has been a great example of how I’d like all of our partnerships with public agencies to go. They really understood their responsibility as land managers and good neighbors.”