The Sun River Watershed, like most of Montana, has experienced a steady increase of noxious weed infestation, particularly Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea stoebe), Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia esula), and Houndstongue (Cynoglossum officinale). While some areas of Montana have suffered tremendous economic and habitat loss due to noxious weeds, proactive management of noxious weeds in the Sun River Watershed is still cost-effective and physically manageable in most areas. However, chronic weed problems exist along riparian corridors, roadways and access points to public lands. In an ever-growing number of cases, weeds are spreading from stream corridors to adjacent private and public lands. Both formal and informal weed management initiatives in the Sun River Watershed will continue to center around drainages, as landowners tend to organize themselves this way. Additionally, drainages are a conduit for the spread of seeds and control methods are more complex in riparian areas because chemical and vehicle use is more restricted. Fighting weeds in these corridors require a lot of labor and creativity to be successful. Sun River Watershed Group partners have substantially increased weed management on irrigated lands. Finally, by expanding Weed Management Areas (WMA) by sub drainage, we expect to improve cooperative efforts across a broad area of the Sun River Watershed. The areas that are included in these active efforts are the:
-Sun River Valley Ditch Company
-Fort Shaw Irrigation District
-Greenfields Irrigation District
-Fairfield Bench area
-Broken O Ranch area
-Upper Sun River tributaries
The Sun River Watershed Group partners with the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountan Ranger District of the Helena- Lewis and Clark National Forest and to host a series of local spray days. These events, held annually in spring and fall, match local landowners with the resources to address noxious weeds in their area. By working together to apply target application of herbicides we help make a difference in the public/private lands interface. These events often combine herbicide application as well as manual control (hand pulling of weeds). Annual spray days include:
-Above Gibson Reservoir
-Ford Creek area
-Elk Creek area
-Sun Canyon area
Sun Canyon Weed Pull
In July of 2017 the Sun River Watershed Group will host the 20th Anniversary Sun Canyon Weed Whacker Rodeo. This fun annual, family friendly event brings people from near and far together to receive education about the threat of noxious weeds and to help preserve the character of the beautiful Sun River Canyon. Every year volunteers come together to pull hundreds of pounds of Spotted Knapweed and enjoy a fantastic lunch that includes donated local beef hamburgers. Door prizes are given out as a testament of our appreciation and that of our local sponsors. Awards are given for the tallest plant and longest root pulled, and a cash bounty is paid out to our younger participants. For more information on this fun event see our Contact page.
Ford Creek Project
For a number of years now the Sun River Watershed Group has partnered with the Lewis & Clark Conservation District and the Montana Conservation Corps to perform manual control (pulling) of Houndstongue along a 12 mile corridor adjacent to to Ford Creek, a tributary of the Sun River. This project engages the next generation of conservation leaders in the labor intensive process of controlling Houndstongue in this sometimes difficult to access area. By removing plants and their seeds from the landscape we actively work to reduce the population and spread of this invasive weed.