Weedworkers Toolbelt, by Mary Millman

Ken Moore Wildland Restoration Pioneer

JANUARY 8, 2010 WAS A DARK AND STORMY FRIDAY NIGHT. No one had really recovered from the holidays. Everyone should have been home and if he or she were of a certain age, getting ready for bed! So it is difficult to overstate our amazement that fifty or more people drove up to Skyline Boulevard to the Trudeau Center by 7 PM to hear Ken Mooreself-styled “Wildland Restoration Pioneer” and undisputed wunderkind of weed busting toolstalk for two hours about how to eradicate invasive exotic French broom from our wildlands.

The Conservancy and two co-sponsors, the East Bay Regional Park District and the Hills Emergency Forum, had invited Ken to discuss his approach to combating French broom invasions, a subject that was discussed at length in the Conservancy’s last newsletter. With his carefully selected tools close at hand, and drawing upon his wealth of experience, Ken addressed every aspect of control and eradication techniques that he had personally field-tested for efficiency, maximum utility, and lasting results. His broom-fighting tool kit, complete with its light and flexible tool belt, includes all of the mechanical assistance needed for field work.

Ken says, “I’m not real fond of having to go back to the truck for that one tool I didn’t bring. So over the years I’ve developed a way to incorporate most of the items I need in the field into a light, compact, easily carried system that provides quick access to everything without compromising my mobility, and still leaves both hands free. And, I don’t forget anything—It’s all right there!” Items on Ken’s belt from left to right are: anvil loppers in cordless drill holder, accessory pouch for camera, GPS, first aid, LED flashlight, etc., folding saw, small spray bottle, anvil pruners, and small monocular.

The keys to broom control, according to Moore, are efficient removal of the individual plants according to an overall plan designed first to protect uninvaded areas from infestation and then to attack the better-established stands. This needs to be done in a manner that does not disturb the soil and does not distribute the seeds. In this era of declining resources, Ken’s expertise has been especially valuable to wildland stewards and interested citizens who wish to make a positive contribution to the broom problem.

Ken Moore came to the attention of the Conservancy through our participation in California Invasive Plant Council’s (CalIPC) invasive species workshops where he is a field instructor. Though Ken has been eradicating invasive plants for forty years, he has worked alone most of the time. Now, however, the increasing presence of invasive species and recognition of the threat they represent, has led the California Department of Agriculture to establish a statewide Invasive Species Council. It is hoped that coordinated and well-funded efforts to control invasives will reach threatened areas with methodologies that have been field-tested for efficiency and reliability. Ken Moore’s contribution to practical invasive eradication is both fundamental and inspiring.

Though Ken’s talk officially ended at 9 PM, he was still swamped with questions at 9:30. It is now Spring, the ground is wet and suitable for pulling up the broom sprouts, and we are hopeful that this year and in the years to come we will see widespread application of the eradication techniques he has tested and developed.