EPIC in Fifth Year of Protecting the Rare Shasta Snow Wreath
2018 was EPIC's first year of pulling Scotch broom to protect the Shasta snow wreath from the Shasta-Trinity National Forest use of herbicides. After five years, we have shown that people power is more effective than toxic chemicals. Our efforts have successfully guarded this incredibly rare plant from invasive Scotch broom plants and drift from poisonous glyphosate and aminopyralid.
The Shasta snow wreath is so incredibly rare; it is known to grow in only twenty-four locations near Lake Shasta Reservoir. The California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to list it as threatened under California Endangered Species Act in February 2022. This ancient rooted plant has survived millions of years through ice ages, fires, volcanic eruptions and floods. Its last few populations are now primarily threatened by the Shasta Dam raise.
In our first year we tackled hundreds of chest high broom plants, leaving huge piles in our wake. We covered an area on the roadside and down in the creek around the snow wreath locations. After the multiple year effort, only a few tiny seedlings and saplings were found on the roadside location. The same is true for the steep and poison oak filled area near the creek, with a few larger plants that were almost ready to seed.
Comparatively, the areas that were subjected to cutting and spraying had more invasive Scotch broom plants sprouting. Much of the cutting was haphazard, missing many plants or not treated at all. This raises the question with the long 30-year viability of the seeds. Seeds continue to sprout year after year and therefore treatments must be done annually for effective control. Do you want our public lands, our wildlife and water to be continuously subjected to toxic chemicals?
Invasive plants are a huge threat to our ecosystems. The problem worsens with fire fighting and logging, especially on roadsides or after soil disturbance. What might be a bigger threat is the increasing herbicide application proposals from the Forest Service, including the Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity and Klamath National Forests. Rather than reduce the risk, all of these forests will increase the spread of invasive plants by collectively proposing nearly 200,000 acres of post-fire logging. EPIC will continue to urge the Forest Service to stop the spread of invasive plants and to lead by example, showing that non-toxic alternatives are possible, safer and more effective.