Students learn about a persistent Montana issue

Hailey Finch, Introduction to Journalism student

On Tuesday, May 21, 24 students, two teachers, one Montana conservation expert, and one bus driver descended the steps of their bus into the fresh air of the Rocky Mountain Front.

     “The purpose of the trip was to educate students on the types of noxious weeds and to get out there and pull our share of them,” teacher Christine Sundly said. She was one of the teachers who came along with the group to Gibson Reservoir, which is located roughly 25 miles west of Augusta.

     The sheer amount of weeds — ranging from Spotted Knapweed to Canada Thistle — that can be found in a confined section of a single hillside is incredible. They’re everywhere, and it is easy to become overwhelmed by the task ahead.

     Sundly said that if everyone who hiked those trails were to pull even 10 plants, they would each keep more than 15,000 seeds from spreading. Even 15 minutes spent pulling plants by each hiker would see a remarkable change in the landscape and foliage diversity in a few years, she said.

     “This year we had AP Biology and Geology students,” Sundly said, adding that she is not certain about next year’s plans, but she knows that they will try to take two busloads of students instead of just the one.

     For anyone thinking about joining the group next year, Sundly said they should expect “some good scenery, some good geologic features, great weather, and just an awareness on just how many noxious weeds there are.”