‘Kids walk away with anywhere from $10 to $1200′: How one Wyoming community fights invasive species by paying kids to pick weeds
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now/PRESS RELEASE) - Few things motivate like money.
For nearly 20 years, the Lincoln County Weed and Pest District has held the annual “Dyer’s Woad Week,” when children 18 years and younger can pick Dyer’s Woad plants and trade it in for 50 cents per pound.
From Monday, June 26 to Wednesday, June 28, kids can go out and pick as many Dyer’s Woad plants as they would like. This program is important as it helps keep this incredibly invasive weed under control in the county and prevents it from spreading throughout Wyoming.
Dyer’s Woad can often take over an area, outgrowing native species. According to the USDA, this reduces forage available for cattle and horses, degrades wildlife habitats, lowers flora and fauna species diversity and decreases land value. The plant can also alter the quality of the soil it grows in and may even produce anywhere from 6,000 to 30,000 seeds, allowing it to proliferate.
“It can just pop up so fast and be so prolific that if we don’t stay on it, we’ll lose the ground,” said Travis Osmond, district supervisor for Lincoln County Weed and Pest. “If we ran out of funding or we didn’t have the support we have from the community like we do, we would lose hunting, fishing, recreation and agriculture. All of that goes away. Especially when we’ve come so far.”
Last year, children across the county brought in 18 tons of Dyer’s Woad. Since the program started, Lincoln County has seen, on average, 16 and 28 tons brought in each year. Osmond mentioned that he’s seen kids walk away with anywhere from $10 to $1,200.
“I don’t think that there’s a better education tool that we can use to educate our youth,” Osmond stated. “If a kid is willing to work really hard, there’s no reason he can’t make a lot of money pulling this invasive weed.”
After the program ends, Lincoln County Weed and Pest crews go out and pick or spray the remaining Dyer’s Woad. They removed anywhere from 32 to 71 tons each summer. Osmond doesn’t believe the plant will ever be eradicated, but continuing this program and working hard to control the weed will keep it from overwhelming the area.
For more information about the program, contact Lincoln County Weed and Pest. For tips to stop the spread of invasive species or for details about the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council, visit wyoweed.org and follow on Facebook and Twitter.
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