Protecting Native Plants
As outlined in the Conservation Lands Management Plan, Parks and Recreation is committed to caring for the environment in our natural areas by working to stem the invasion of non-native invasive weeds that displace native plants. This is an essential step in restoring our natural areas and in creating healthy habitats needed to support wildlife. Parks and Recreation has been increasingly successful in removing some of the most damaging noxious weeds that have invaded our conservation lands.
The diverse vegetation found on Missoula's Open Space contributes to the unique character of these landscapes. Plant communities are the backbone of all habitats. Local native plant communities provide food and cover for animals, play essential roles in nutrient cycles, and offer a variety of recreational opportunities for citizens. The importance of healthy, diverse, native plant communities to the preservation of local Montana habitats cannot be understated. In general, the more diverse any plant community the more wildlife it can support.
Controlling Noxious Weeds
The Conservation Lands Management program manages for noxious weeds using an integrated approach including re-vegetation, herbicides, erosion controls, fire, monitoring, hand pulling, mowing, grazing, biocontrols, mowing and community involvement and education. Learn more about noxious weeds at MSU Extension Service website.
Periodically throughout the growing season, Parks and Recreation will be conducting herbicide applications to selected areas of City open space to control noxious weeds. Most applications are applied directly to targeted noxious weeds to minimize use of chemicals and potential harm to beneficial plants. Blue dye is used to identify herbicide-treated weeds and help people avoid contacting the chemicals when wet.
Trailheads on properties where herbicides will be applied will be posted 24 hours before and 24 hours after application. Detailed maps of the applications area(s) and related details will be posted at individual trailheads. Herbicides are just one of many methods, such as sheep grazing, re-vegetation, hand-pulling and bio-controls, the city uses to control noxious weeds and restore native plant communities. More information concerning the impact and control of noxious weeds and the invasive plants controlled on City Open Space can be found in the Conservation Lands Management Plan, Chapter Four.
Sheep on City Open Space - Please leash your dog!
Each summer, the city’s woolliest employees returned to Missoula’s public open spaces to eat noxious weeds in the North Hills and on Mount Jumbo. About 400 sheep will be deployed to help control leafy spurge, spotted knapweed, and dalmation toadflax. And each summer, several sheep are killed on City Open Space by at-large dogs.
To protect the sheep and avoid conflict, hikers with dogs are required to avoid the herd and to keep dogs leashed when near grazing livestock. Leashes are required on trails posted with a livestock advisory notice. The city’s lend-a-leash program provides leashes at many trailheads. Failure to adhere to these and posted notices could result in fines, seasonal closures, or other measures to protect conservation lands and programs. The herd will alternate between the North Hills and Mount Jumbo throughout the summer.