Klymit Volunteer Day
A crisp, cool morning welcomed Klymit volunteers along with the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation (CCF) employees in local Utah canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon. CCF is a local organization that cares for and educates about the ecosystems found in Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood, and Mill Creek canyons. The employees first taught our volunteers about the history of the canyon.
When pioneers first came to Utah, they used every tree in these canyons to build up the city. In the early 1900’s, native seeds were collected from all over the western states to rebuild the forests in Utah’s canyons. It was then declared to be one of the country’s first national forests in efforts to preserve the new, natural ecosystems. Every tree now found in Big Cottonwood Canyon is less than 150 years old!
Knowing the history of this canyon gives inspiration to preserve what has been rebuilt in the last 100+ years. CCF taught our volunteers about the importance of the watersheds kept in the canyon as well, and how invasive species of weeds can impact the flow of one of Utah’s biggest water supplies. Preserving the natural ecosystems of plants found in the canyons is necessary to keep our canyons safe, and our water safe.
When large patches of invasive species grow, they can interfere with the growth of native plants and be a common source of wildfires. This impacts the soil and debri which affect the flow of water from our watersheds.
Invasive plant species found in Big Cottonwood Canyon include many types of thistles. One type of weed is called Canada Thistle and has fluffy seeds when flowering, similar to dandelions, which can spread very quickly and effectively.
Other thistles have burs, which stick to human clothing and animal fur to be transferred elsewhere in the canyon. You can see a full list of the invasive and native plants found in Utah canyons by visiting the CCF website.
At the end of every volunteer day, CCF employees weigh the weeds pulled, which are kept in big trash bags throughout the day. This is important as the record of weight is shared with grant providers. Grants are the main source of funding for CCF.
After weighing the bags they are compacted and thrown into waste bins. Oftentimes while pulling weeds, there is other trash found and thrown away as well! (If you pack it in, don’t forget to pack it back out.)
Our Klymit volunteers worked on pulling weeds in the Spruces campground near water sources and campsites. Our group ended up pulling 381 pounds of weeds!
Native seed collection is another opportunity to participate in while pulling weeds. These seeds are then stored until the season is over. Once colder months hit, the native seeds are planted in greenhouses to grow over the winter. In the spring they are replanted in areas where the seeds were collected originally!
If you would like to volunteer with the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation, please visit their website and look into the various volunteer opportunities available! And next time you’re out hiking, be aware of the invasive plants that could be growing close to the trail. Prevent the spread of weed seeds!
Cottonwood Canyons Foundation