Vine Maple and Red Alder leaves crunch underfoot as our team of volunteers make their way down the road. Heads bent, eyes scan back and forth. We’re intent on finding pineapples. No, not the sweet tropical fruit, but the widespread, invasive species, Meadow Knapweed.
This plant produces a deceptively beautiful purple flower which blooms in late summer and fall, leaving behind a pineapple shaped cone perched upon a stalk that grows up 3 ½ feet tall. Meadow Knapweed out-competes native grasses and other plants like wild daisies, lupine, and Oregon Grape.
Three times since 2012, Mountain Rose Herbs’ employees have participated in this kind of "No Spray" project organized by our friends at Beyond Toxics. Many of us have come back year after year and it’s so encouraging to see the native plants retake the area where invasives once thrived.
This year, Mountain Rose River Project volunteers partnered with the GreenLane Sustainable Business Network volunteers and Beyond Toxics to remove Meadow Knapweed and Scotch Broom. The feisty, tenacious, grassroots non-profit organization, Beyond Toxics, has an agreement with the Oregon Department of Transportation to not spray pesticides and herbicides on a 10 mile stretch of highway west of Eugene, Oregon. These types of sprays not only kill weeds but other plant and animal life. To prevent pesticide use that eventually runs off into streams and to protect salmon in the Siuslaw watershed, we must pull the weeds by hand.
The team stopped for lunch at Triangle Lake and had a wonderful time soaking up the sun. These sorts of opportunities make me appreciate Mountain Rose Herbs’ Paid Time for Community Involvement Program. It’s hard work that leaves us sore, but the joy of getting outside and helping groups like Beyond Toxics is well worth it! We removed a total of 25 bags of invasive species, ensuring that at least this stretch of the road will not be sprayed with pesticides which harm our watersheds, wildlife, and communities.
Photos taken by Nichole Hayward, CAWOOD