Parks and Rec: Sheep’s effect on knapweed ‘remarkable’


by Keila Szpaller, Ravalli Republic

Missoula sheep's appetite for weeds has paid off on Mount Jumbo – in a way that's both unexpected and “remarkable,” according to conservation lands manager Morgan Valliant.

“We're seeing what we believe is a large-scale population crash of spotted knapweed on the saddle,” said Valliant, with the city Parks and Recreation Department.

The weed-eating sheep won't graze the North Hills this year because it's time for other tools in that area, Valliant said Monday. In the middle of June, however, the animals will return to Mount Jumbo.

“We'll do one more year on the south face of Jumbo, and then the plan is to stop grazing the south face of Jumbo next year. We will continue to graze the saddle,” Valliant said.

There, photos show the knapweed is dying, he said. Parks and Rec anticipated the sheep could help knock back the leafy spurge and toadflax, but he said there was little research to suggest sheep would have a measurable effect on spotted knapweed.

“It's quite amazing, actually,” Valliant said of the results.

If the knapweed goes to seed, it will set the clock back, so Parks and Rec will let the sheep keep doing their work on the saddle.

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Source:  Ravalli Republic



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