SKC Extension Service Stalking the Wild Iris

Nov 15th, 2004 | By | Category: 16-2: Tribal College Research, Tribal College News

Most people consider the wild yellow iris a beautiful flower. On the Flathead Reservation in Montana, however, it is turning into a yellow plague. Iris pseudacorus infests canals, reservoirs, streams, Flathead Lake, wetlands, and the Mission Mountain foothill waterways.

By spreading rapidly and reducing native vegetation, it makes land unfit for beneficial uses, according to Virgil Dupuis, Salish Kootenai College (SKC) Extension agent. After the state of Montana listed it as a Category 3 noxious weed, the SKC Extension Service began mapping new iris infestations with GPS and monitoring existing infestations.

The extension service also began a research project to control the iris and re-vegetate with native shrubs. The Crow Creek project will assess the long-term effectiveness of herbicide and shading on iris and the ability of native alder and willow to become established.

The college is working with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the local weed district, and the state of Montana on this iris project. Working with most of the same partners, the SKC Extension Service is also researching the feasibility of reseeding rangelands that have become infested with noxious weeds and invasive plants.

While there are almost no native grasses in the area, significant populations of native forbs still exist. The tribes want to reestablish these native grasses without plowing. Three years after seeding, native grasses are becoming established, despite competition from weeds and grass invaders, Dupuis says.

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