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Partners rally to help stop the spread of white sweetclover onto the Kenai Peninsula!

by | August 10, 2021

A group of dedicated weed warriors (and entomologists) from Anchorage and across the Kenai Peninsula got together last week to help stop the spread of white sweetclover onto the Kenai Peninsula. A few weeks ago, a thick population of white sweetclover spreading over eight miles along the Seward Highway from milepost 71 to 79 was discovered by the Kenai Watershed Forum. The Kenai Peninsula Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (KP-CISMA) and concerned citizens have worked diligently for over a decade to keep this invasive plant off of the peninsula, and to date have succeeded in managing all known infestations. This new infestation was in full flower, and we didn’t have much time before it turned to seed.

partners pull invasive plants along highway.
Photo by Christina Kriedeman: KP-CISMA partners pull white sweetclover along Seward Highway.

White sweetclover (Melilotus alba) is a biennial invasive plant that can grow over 6 feet tall, is easily spread through gravel/soil material, and produces up to 350,000 seeds per plant that remain viable in the soil for up to 81 years (Klemow and Raynal 1981, Rutledge and McLendon 1996, Royer and Dickinson 1999). It can have severe ecological impacts to Alaska’s native grasslands, river bars, wildlife and pollinators. Something needed to be done immediately to stop this infestation from going to seed along the only highway that leads onto the Kenai Peninsula!

white sweetclover plant
Photo of invasive white sweetclover by: Rob Routledge, Sault College, Bugwood.org

This was a bigger project than four people could hand pull in one day. The Kenai Watershed Forum kick-started removal on August 4th, with help from KP-CISMA partners. Emails and texts went out and a group of 10 people committed to showing up the next day (August 5th) to hand pull as many plants as possible. When the group arrived, it looked like an overwhelming task, but by the end of the day 6 dumpsters were filled with bags of white sweetclover and the flowering plants were nowhere in sight between the Placer River and the ‘Welcome to the Kenai Peninsula‘ sign. What a great team effort with over 6 different agencies and organizations represented!

Partners pull invasive white sweetclover along hwy.
Photo by Christina Kriedeman: KP-CISMA partners pulled white sweetclover over the course of two days along the Seward Highway last week, removing over 6 truckloads of this invasive plant between mileposts 71 – 79.

Interested in helping us keep the Kenai Peninsula wild and free from invasive species? Learn more by emailing us at kenaipeninsula.invasives@gmail.com

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