2024.06.06 | Annual Spraying on Fiscalini Ranch Preserve

field of weedly thistle on the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve

Each year the Cambria Community Services District hires a crew to help control invasive weeds in areas of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve that are not mowed.  Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve often helps to pay for this spraying.  This year the annual herbicide spraying has caught the attention of many people, perhaps because there were just so many weeds to spray.

     The herbicide used by CCSD is Milestone.  When sprayed on actively growing broadleaf plants, Milestone spreads throughout the plant and kills both the top growth and roots without harming most grasses.  The Environmental Protection Agency approved Milestone to control many of the Ranch’s most persistent weeds: invasive thistles.

     Milestone comes with no grazing restrictions and can even be used on fields where dairy cows feed.  This herbicide is especially recommended for wildlife habitat areas and campgrounds because of its lack of toxicity.  Further, Milestone is safe for the people who apply it.  The only recommended protective equipment are long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and shoes and socks.

     To control weeds, the Ranch needs to be sprayed in the spring when the plants are actively growing and, ideally, before they set seed.  Unfortunately, this is a windy time in coastal California so although the herbicide is applied by trained crews who spot spray target species, some herbicide does travel on the wind. It is not feasible to spray only in the mornings, which are often windy anyway.  The herbicide includes a temporary blue dye so that crews can easily tell which areas have been treated.

     With rampant growth caused by two rainy winters, FFRP’s small but intrepid crew of volunteer weeders cannot control all the plants that threaten the Ranch’s wildlife habitats.  Large stands of thistle are more effectively controlled by herbicide.  Spraying supports their efforts to control these dangerous and invasive species.

     The weeders meet every Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. on the Ranch.  To be added to their email list, write to volunteer (at) ffrpcambria.org.

Article first published in https://cambriaca.org/