Invasive weeds are the losers of the Garlic Mustard games

Ecology Bridge and Summit CWMA scheduled public weed pulls for the Garlic Mustard Games as a fun way to control invasive garlic mustard in Summit County. The public can participate in scheduled events or pull weeds throughout the summer competition.
Photo courtesy of Betsy Hochman

The 2022 Garlic Mustard Games, a county-wide weed harvest, has begun.

The contest, which runs through August, is a fun way to control invasive garlic mustard, said Sara Jo Dickens, owner of Ecology Bridge and director of Summit CWMA, the organizers of the event.

Ecology Bridge helps private landowners and public land managers protect the value of their land, while a CWMA, an acronym for Cooperative Weed Management Areas, are national organizations that help landowners control invasive weeds.



“Summit CWMA partners with Summit County — Park City, Snyderville Basin, Deer Valley, Vail, Woodward, Utah Olympic Park, The Colony, and a ton of HOAs — all of which have large amounts of land,” Dickens said. “We want to make sure we have the biggest impact on the weed and the least impact on everything else.”

Garlic mustard is a biennial weed that quickly invades areas and inhibits the germination and growth of native plant species, according to Dickens.



It also disrupts soil-fungal relationships with trees that help protect them from drought, disease and beetles, and depletes soil nutrients, she said.

“The direct and indirect impacts of garlic mustard increase the risk of forest fires, erosion and sedimentation,” she said. “So it’s important that we find ways to control the weed.”

Garlic mustard is a biennial weed that quickly invades areas and inhibits the germination and growth of native plant species.
Courtesy of Betsy Hochman

Another goal of the games is to educate and empower the community and reduce herbicide use, said Dickens, who has more than 15 years of experience in ecology, with a focus on plant biology, plant ecology, restoration ecology, weed and plant ecology. interactions with the ground.

“Our approach is the integrative approach and using restoration as soon as possible to reclaim the land,” Dickens said. “There are many areas where we would rather preserve the diversity of wildflowers and other beneficial plants than restore it, because restoration takes a lot of effort.”

The rules for the Garlic Mustard Games are simple, said Betsy Hochman, ecology and outreach specialist for Ecology Bridge.

Competitors can form a team and pull weeds, and teams can be any size, she said.

Teams can go weeding whenever they want, and once they’re done they can weigh how much they pulled and email photos to [email protected]said Hochman.

“We also have a survey on our website (summitcwma.org/garlic-mustard-games), and when you’re done weeding for the day, you can enter your team name, contact details, number of members of the team, the number of bags you pulled and uploaded photos,” she said.

To provide more opportunities to pull weeds, Ecology Bridge has set up a calendar of summer community events, according to Hochman.

The dates are as follows:

• June 4 — Pinebrook Creek

• June 11 — Glenwood Cemetery and Crescent Ridge

• June 22 — PRI Open Space

• June 25 — Moose Hollow

• June 29 — Har Shalom Temple

• July 9: Ecker Hill

• July 13: McLeod Creek

• July 23: Armstrong trail

• July 27: McLeod Creek

• July 30 – Toll Canyon

• TBA – East Canyon State Park

Each of these events will include opportunity draws for the winners, and weed amounts will be included in the teams’ cumulative totals that will be tallied at the end of the season, Dickens said.

“To make things fair for teams of only one or two people, we divide the amount of garlic mustard herb extracted between the number of members in a team,” she said. “When it’s all said and done, we’ll be hosting a food truck party for the top 70 weeders in September.”

Dickens had floated the idea of ​​the Garlic Mustard Games since 2018.

“I had come across a (garlic mustard) population on the Armstrong Trail that was about 30 acres and set up what we called the Armstrong Challenge,” she said. “We had people come in, pull the weeds and leave them in bags along the trail.”

To facilitate the Armstrong Challenge, Ecology Bridge has set up booths with bags and signs, so people can participate anytime,” Dickens said.

“When they were done weeding, they would email me with pictures and tell me how many bags they were filling,” she said. “We then awarded them Opportunity Drawings, and we had such a huge turnout, including bikers and tourists, so it was quite impactful.”

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