Knotweed, a non-native, invasive plant that often encroaches on stream habitats, can wreak havoc on critical fish and wildlife habitat.
So, when the Friends of the Riverwalk Trail beautification committee discovered a large patch of it near the 11th Street trailhead of the Riverwalk Trail, the group notified the City of Puyallup.
Last week, a group of volunteers from the Friends of the Riverwalk, along with city parks staff members and the Pierce Conservation District, bent down the brittle 100-foot by 200-foot patch of knotweed that stood 12 feet tall.
“Volunteers went through about an hour and a half and bent it all down,” said Melissa Buckingham, the urban conservation program coordinator for the Pierce Conservation District.
Chris Beale, an associate city planner, said Puyallup asked the Pierce Conservation District for help because of limited staffing in the city maintenance department.
“In three weeks’ time, the knotweed will grow to be 3 feet tall,” Buckingham said. “At that time, city staff will apply a herbicide to the knotweed that will kill the root. Over the winter, we will monitor the growth.”
Beale said any continued growth of the plant will be killed in spring 2014, and then the beautification committee will plant native trees and shrubs in its place.
Buckingham said the Pierce Conservation District plans to map the Riverwalk Trail during the next three years to control and treat all the knotweed.
“We will build a comprehensive map of all the areas where we have knotweed and come up with a management plant to work with,” Beale said. “We will use the management plan to request grant funding.
“(Aug. 19) was a great kickoff effort to concentrate more effectively on controlling the knotweed.”
Ernie Bay, a founding member of the Friends of the Riverwalk Trail, said he felt a sense of accomplishment as he bent the knotweed toward the ground.
“I didn’t have quite the stamina I like,” Bay said. “There was a lot of physical effort required to bend it over. You become a human bulldozer.”
Bay said he used a lead pipe that was 8 feet long and 4 inches in diameter to bend and push down the weed.
“It was a jungle of knotweed,” he said.Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.