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California budget cuts impact yellow starthistle control

Yellow starthistle
The Star Thistle Leading Edge Project, a collaborative effort involving state and federal agencies and UC Cooperative Extension, is facing a lack of funding, reported Matt Weiser in the Sacramento Bee.

The project was funded by the state Department of Food and Agriculture as part of its weed control budget totaling $2.7 million in 2011. That money was cut from the 2011-2012 state budget cycle. Local and federal grants that kept the program going will run out next month. A $314,000 grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy was denied because the group failed to meet the application requirements, the article said.

These developments may give starthistle a bigger hold on California wildland. The roots of the nuisance weed grow as much as six feet deep to find moisture.

"It would be as if these areas are experiencing drought because of the amount of water it uses," said Joe DiTomaso, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences. DiTomaso is a leading expert on starthistle.

The Leading Edge Project started about a decade ago with a mapping effort to find out just how much of the state was infested with starthistle, and where it was spreading, said Wendy West, the project's coordinator and a University of California Cooperative Extension program representative based in Placerville.

"It felt like such a losing battle that we really needed to prioritize what we could do and how we could be successful," West said.

"I've personally pulled plants at 7,000 feet in Alpine County," West said. "It may not move quite as fast, but yellow star thistle is a really good example of a plant that can adapt to new locations easily."

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Posted on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 5:57 AM

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