County aims to snuff out knotweed in waterways

EVERETT — A program getting under way this summer aims to eradicate invasive Japanese knotweed from the banks of the Pilchuck River.

Snohomish County’s Noxious Weed Control Board plans to perform the work with the help from state and federal grants. The goal is to start near the river’s headwaters near Spada Lake, then move south past Granite Falls, Lake Stevens and Snohomish, until reaching the Snohomish River.

“If you live or own property on the Pilchuck River or any of its tributaries, if you have seen this plant, or if you would like to schedule a field visit, contact us,” said Sonny Gohrman, the county’s noxious weed coordinator.

From now until September, the noxious weed board will be seeking river access to survey and control the invasive plant, at no cost to landowners.

The county’s noxious weed board received a $20,000 state Department of Agriculture grant for surveying, Gohrman said. Another state grant for the same amount is expected next month. An additional $10,000 in county Surface Water Management dollars is dedicated for knotweed removal in the Stillaguamish River, Little Bear Creek and Pilchuck River basins as needed.

The state Department of Ecology also is providing a Conservation Corps crew for some of the surveying and removal work.

Knotweed sprouts from stems and roots. It can clog small waterways and displace native vegetation. That can lead to bank erosion, flooding, and destruction of fish and wildlife habitat.

Japanese knotweed and related plants are native to Asia. They were introduced to the United States in the late 1800s as ornamentals. Common names include Mexican or Japanese bamboo, elephant ear and fleeceflower.

For more information, or to schedule a visit, call 425-388-7534; or write to Janice Martin, the county’s noxious weed inspector, at janice.martin@snoco.org; or to Gohrman at sonny.gohrman@snoco.org.

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