Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

September 16, 2013

Thistle invading county; officials mull solutions

TAHLEQUAH — As long as there has been domestic agriculture, farmers have dealt with nuisance flora.

About 50 people were present at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center on Thursday to hear about a problem plant invading much of Oklahoma.

The Cherokee County Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service hosted an outreach meeting to discuss local conservation efforts and federal cost-share programs. However, many were on hand to hear about management of musk thistles.

“We have been dealing with musk thistle for a long time,” said Roger Williams, an agent with the Oklahoma State University Extension Office. “We have put out [brush thistle] weevils, but that hasn’t done the job everybody thought it would. After distributing them for a couple of years, we no have a hard time finding them, and it may be a long time before we build a population that can thin out the thistle in Cherokee County or across the state.”

Oklahoma deems musk, Scotch and Canada thistle as nuisance weeds in all counties. By law, landowners must take steps to control infestations.

Williams said earlier conservation suggestions to spray thistle with herbicide in March proved ineffective.

“We’ve learned our lesson,” he said. “Thistle needs to be sprayed around the middle of February. It can be sprayed and cut down in March, but by then, the head already contains viable seed.”

Attendees also heard about efforts to protect water quality and reduce erosion through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and the Stream Bank Stabilization Project. Gina Levesque, CREP coordinator, showed before-and-after slides of several projects, including one at Felts Park.

Several cost-share agricultural programs through different agencies, including the Illinois River 319 Program, which can provide funds for watering facilities, pipelines, ponds and riparian fencing on property within the watershed, were explained. Information is available by calling the CCCD at (918) 456-1919, or the NRCS or Farm Service Agency at (918) 456-1924.

“If people are interested in any of our programs, they can let us know what they have in mind,” said Garland Phillips, chair of the CCCD. “They do need to remember that they will need to have some money, because all the programs we discussed are cost-share. They can check with us to make sure it is a project they really want to do and find out what it will cost.”

-- srowley@tahlequahdailypress.com

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