Weed team ready to roll up sleeves, pull roots

By Molly Dischner
Sun Star Reporter

After months spent discussing how to handle invasive plants on campus, UAF’s weed team has a draft work plan and is hosting a public meeting this week to get input on it. Organizer Marie Heidemann, a graduate student in Natural Resources Management, said the team will have a draft of its plan available at its meeting on Wednesday. The meeting will start at 6 p.m. in Room 102 at U-Park.

The plan includes a variety of management strategies, including ignoring some species, studying others and eradicating still others. Heidemann said that the biology of each plant was considered in deciding how to manage it.

Plants that need to be studied more include yellow alfalfa, an alien perennial sometimes found along roadways in Alaska. One that can be ignored is European bird cherry, popular with landscapers, and planted by Facilities Services here on campus. Heidemann said her group is not recommending that the university remove existing bird cherries, just to refrain from planting more of them. “It is a beautiful tree,” she said.

Pea shrub requires a combination of those two strategies, Heidemann said. The plan recommends
further research to find a suitable replacement, but also asks facilities not to plant it. Heidemann said she had been told that they probably wouldn’t be planting it anymore anyway.

The weed team – a group of researchers, students and other university personnel interested in invasive plants – has been meeting all semester to create UAF’s management plan. Initially, Heidemann didn’t expect to have a draft of the plan written so soon. “It’s certainly getting written a lot faster than I expected,” she said.

After the plan is finalized, Heidemann will turn her focus to getting it implemented on-campus. The plan also calls for further research, which could be conducted by graduate and undergraduate students. Alaska Railroad Corporation
and Alaska’s Department of Transportation have both indicated that they are interested in research that would help them manage plants on their land, Heidemann said.

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