Volunteers 'pull together' to protect native plants, remove noxious weeds

Volunteers remove invasive weeds from a clearing near Dodge Bridge County Park in Eagle Point. (KTVL/Genevieve Grippo)

Pulling weeds might not seem like an ideal start to your Saturday morning, but that's exactly how a group of Rogue Valley volunteers kicked off their weekend.

In partnership with the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy, the Jackson County Weed Management Area and several other groups, the Let's Pull Together event focuses on protecting native species of plants by removing noxious weeds.

The event takes place in cities across the west coast, but crews in Jackson County focused on the Rogue River Preserve near Dodge Bridge County Park in Eagle Point. A group of about 20 volunteers targeted scotch broom and yellow starthistle, two species of invasive weeds that crowd out other plants.

"This particular plant is nitrogen fixing. So a lot of the plants in our area have become accustomed to not needing a lot of nitrogen, so it can actually be harmful for them to have too much," said Curtis Pearce, who traveled from Grants Pass to volunteer for the event.

A host of other organisms can be affected when native species don't thrive, according to Pearce. In the plant world, he said noxious weeds hurt a microorganism that help Douglas Firs grow.

Animals that are adapted to eating certain plants can also feel the impact.

"These plants taking away our native plants... they're kind of messing up the native habitat and the native wildlife that is used to feeding on those plants and the pollen and things like that," said Pearce. "So a good way to keep our native habitat going is to keep our native plants here."

Volunteers worked for several hours Saturday morning and cleared about an acre of invasive weeds.

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