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Volunteers pluck puncturevines at Willow Park

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“There’s a lot of potential and a lot of space here,” said Nancy Bentley, event coordinator at Hutchings Museum, as she pulled one of the many, many puncturevine weeds that plague campgrounds and parks along the Jordan River. Bentley and a few others were at Willow Park on Saturday morning, Sept. 25, ready to provide other volunteers with heavy duty garbage bags, gloves, Gatorade and an opportunity to get rid of the noxious weed before they go to seed. 

“This weed is a problem all up and down the 50-mile stretch of the Jordan River and throughout the state,” said Mariah Jackson, Project and Program Manager of the weed management program with the Jordan River Commission. “It can grow to be up to six feet wide.” The stems of puncturevines radiate out from a central taproot. The yellow flowers are about half an inch wide with five petals. The seedpod is a cluster of five flat, spiny burrs containing up to five seeds. That’s a lot of sharp “goathead” burs that puncture bicycle tires, hands, feet and paws.

Jackson wrote a grant last year and got $12,000 for the Puncturevine Bounty Program. Over the summer groups could register to pull and bag the weeds and get $2 per lb. payment. Hundreds of lbs. of puncturevines have been removed from parks and campgrounds along the Jordan River during the summer of 2021. Corporate groups and families who participated usually donated the money back to the Jordan River Foundation. 

“We like to partner with the Jordan River Commission to get volunteers to help pull puncture vines and take people on guided canoe rides on the Jordan River,” said Bentley.

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The Jordan River Commission (JRC) has a small grants program with opportunities for up to $5,000 for exceptional proposals for projects that fit within the purposes of the JRC. Applications are considered from May to November.

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