County approves $19K in contracts to battle bad weeds

By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current

Missoula County commissioners on Tuesday approved three separate contracts totaling roughly $19,000 to treat several county parks and trails for noxious weeds, including houndstongue and other invasive species.

Set to take place in the spring and fall, the work includes a $7,000 contract with Mountain Valley Plant Management to spray several county parks for weeds, including Sunwood, Lolo Beach and Hampton North parks.

“They’re parks we found priority noxious weeds on and we want to get out there and treat those,” said Kali Becher, a rural landscape scientist with the county. “Whenever we treat a park for the first time, we always reach out to the neighbors and send out letters to make sure nobody has concerns.”

Commissioners also approved a $5,000 contract with Native Yards, Inc., to handle weed management in Tom Green Park. The work includes hand-pulling houndstongue, which can produce up to 2,000 seeds per plant.

The weed carries an alkaloid poison that can kill livestock through loss of production of liver cells. It’s also toxic to horses, according to the Montana Weed Control Association.

“When pulling any plant, it’s important to note their development,” Becher said. “It’s important to pull them at a certain time when they’re starting but haven’t flowered.”

The final $7,000 contract was awarded to MWA Specialists for weed management along several county trails, including those in Target Range, Seeley Lake, Frenchtown and Bonner.

Becher described the effort as a pilot project to increase maintenance of area trails.

“It’s for the treatment of noxious weeds along county trails, specifically the ones that are in the county right-of-way,” Becher said. “The Montana Department of Transportation right-of-way is treated for noxious weeds on a rotating basis, and that’s coordinated partially through the weed district.

“In order not to overlap with the work they do, we chose to focus just on county right-of-way trails. We have to prioritize because there’s only so much money.”

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at info@missoulacurrent.com