Meddlesome plant species giving Woodside fits 

It’s costing thousands of dollars in Woodside to nip a hungry invasive weed species from another continent in its bud.

The slender false brome looks like an inconspicuous form of thick grass. It’s native to Europe, Asia and North Africa, but planted its roots in Woodside — the only place it’s been in abundance in California.

It doesn’t kill native plants, but is capable of covering the ground and preventing resident seedlings from replenishing the ecosystem. It was introduced to Oregon in the early 20th century and spread over tens of thousands of acres in western Oregon in the 1990s.

How the plant ended up in Oregon or Woodside is unclear, but it has been around for years and needs to be stopped, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District spokeswoman Leigh Ann Maze said.

Last year, the district received a $15,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to find and remove the slender false brome from the Thornewood Open Space Preserve. The grant also would pay private property owners to get rid of the plant.

Grant money paid for the excavation of 53 acres among 23 private properties, and it’s available for this year, too. Private owners can have their land assessed by the district and receive $350 for every acre they uproot.

“They can have the weed pulled by hand or they can use an herbicide,” Maze said. “If it’s really big and dense, there’s a mulching option, too.” Then, the district volunteered to take the plant to a compost pile to keep it contained to one place.

District officials are encouraging landowners who already did it once to do it again because it was bound to shed its seeds in the soil. There’s also a list of property owners who did not get in on the first round because of timing or money constraints.

“Eventually, we might have to use our own funds,” said district coordinator Ellen Gartside, who’s responsible for assessing property invaded with the slender false brome.

The district predicted it will continue to isolate and get rid of the weed until 2017.

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