Quileute Tribe Sees Elk Return As Knotweed Eradication Takes Hold

FORKS (Nov. 13, 2007) –The Quileute Tribe is protecting and enhancing a sprawling Quillayute River system through a dedicated effort to eradicate knotweed, an invasive non-native weed. Knotweed alters the function of streamside areas, known as riparian zones, by replacing important native trees and plants that contribute to stream, fish and wildlife health.

This is the fifth year of the tribe’s knotweed assessment and treatment, encompassing all the tributaries of the Quillayute River system. While the tribe is seeing real progress on the Calawah and Sol Duc rivers, efforts on the Dickey and Bogachiel rivers are more difficult. “The Dickey and Bogachiel are nightmares because they have those large floodplain areas where the river moves around quite a bit and there’s a lot of sandy soil where knotweed grows extremely well,” said Frank Geyer, Timber/Fish/Wildlife biologist for the Quileute Tribe. “The Sol Duc and Calawah are more confined river systems and have fewer wide, sandy floodplains.”

The tribe worked with Clallam County this year to treat knotweed on the Sol Duc River as well as in and around the city of Forks and other outlying areas. Meanwhile, work on the Dickey and Calawah Rivers by Quileute crews has continued and they plan to attack a heavily infested Bogachiel River next year. They have also been assisting with a University of Washington graduate research project on the Dickey River.

“We know from our success on the Dickey River that it’s possible to get on top of the problem. One of the things we have noticed is that a herd of elk we monitor cooperatively with the state tends to be spending more time in a particular area along the Dickey than before. That could be because there is increased native forage now that we’ve eradicated so much of the knotweed,” said Geyer.

“Knotweed removal also appears to be benefiting the elk by removing some of the cover used by predators such as cougars. We have documented cougar using the knotweed as ambush cover along the river to kill elk. They were also using it to cover their kills.”

“This is a multi-year job, however we have been getting a lot of cooperation and help from landowners and other agencies. We just have to hope that collectively we can continue to find the funding to keep the ball rolling. There really seems to be a lot of momentum to get this done.” said Geyer.

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For more information, contact: Frank Geyer, Timber/Fish/Wildlife biologist, Quileute Tribe, (360) 374-5695; Debbie Preston, coastal information officer, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commisson, (360) 374-5501, dpreston@nwifc.org