Wednesday, April 4, 2012

We have to keep up the good fight

Email exchange today between myself and Ricky Linex, a wildlife biologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Weatherford. (We met at the Riparian workshop last week.) 

Hi, Ricky: I just got in from taking a break at my desk to go pull thistle. I just see more and more of it. It's IN our meadow and our neighbor's adjoining lot. At least they mow theirs. We let ours go for the wildflowers. But I'm just really depressed. We'll NEVER get it all pulled before it goes to seed. Plus, it looks like some has already gone to seed at the bottom-most flower nearest the ground. This stuff is WILEY.

ARE we doing any good by going out there every day and pulling the thistle? It feels pointless. It looks like it's gonna win.

Thoughts? Now excuse me while I go sit in a corner and bawl.


P.S. I LOVE my Master Naturalist classes. But, like I told my husband, now I'm getting even more things to worry and obsess about. :-)

Ricky's reply:

Knowledge is a scary thing isn’t it?  I read your "Does it Matter?" post last night.

This week, we set up a wildlife contest in Palo Pinto County for FFA and 4-H students. From the highway, we had to travel 2 miles down a gravel road to the ranch, then 4.5 miles down a ranch road to the area chosen for the contest. Over 75 percent of the distance along the ranch road had malta star thistle growing on one or both sides of the road. You first ask yourself, How in the world did this plant get there in the first place? If it was along a public highway, I could understand how seed could have been deposited along the route, but this road has seen little traffic other than the rancher. 

However, the ranch just completed a large pavilion last month at the end of this road. Cement trucks, carpenters, lumber delivery trucks, plumbers, electricians, stone masons, septic installers and water line installers have all traveled that road in the past six months. That likely explains how a remote area could be contaminated by the seeds. If such a remote area can be affected, what hope is there to keep it out of more public areas? It is just showing up everywhere this year, like an explosion of thistle trying to cover the ground that was exposed by the drought of 2011.

I walked along a creek in Hamilton County yesterday and saw the thistle there. If you are looking, you will find this thistle. It must be the year of the thistle. It may now be time to go to a diversified control using chemicals on small plants (<6 inches tall) and continuing to pull large plants to prevent seed production. The weed eater may also work on those tiny seedlings present after pulling the larger plants. Begin monitoring the mowed areas to see if the thistles continue to grow with side branches.

Remember what Winston Churchill said during WWII: “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender." 

We must be like the British and continue to fight, never giving up. But the fighting has to involve more than just one or two caring souls it must include the entire neighborhood, the entire city, county and even the state to push back this threat.  

It is a good fight. Keep up the good work.

No comments:

Post a Comment