ISDA Begins Invasive Plant Removal In Pristine Springs
The Idaho State Department of Agriculture is beginning a process to remove an invasive plant from a pristine natural spring in south central Idaho.
Last month ISDA confirmed the presence of Eurasion watermilfoil in Blue Heart Springs along the Snake River. It’s an invasive aquatic plant that can decrease oxygen levels in the water and makes it hard for people to swim or paddle.
The department sent a team there last week to begin the clean-up process “to suck up those plants from the bottom of Blue Heart Springs and remove the plant biomass up and out of the water,” said Jeremey Varley, the noxious weed section manager at ISDA.
Varley led the group to Blue Heart last week. In wet suits and snorkel gear, they suctioned the leafy plants into a vacuum-like device. Others with fishing nets stood nearby to catch the remnants of the plants pulled from the spring bottom. Varley said that’s because the stragglers can start spreading new patches of weeds on their own.
In two days, the team removed nearly 2,000 pounds of plant matter from the most dense part of the pool, on the Western edge. They had help from the Governors Office of Species Conservation and Twin Falls County Weed Control.
The group will have to come back to remove another patch in the next few weeks and then will start a longer monitoring process, with the goal of fully controlling the watermilfoil over the next few years.
Varley said, thanks to a tip from Southern Idaho Tourism, the department caught the plant early in its growth. They want to make sure it doesn’t spread downstream to the Snake River. From these visits, it appears that hasn’t yet happened, but the flowing river would make plant removal more challenging, so it's something they’ll be monitoring in the coming months.
Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen
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