As we wrap up 2022, we can’t help but reflect on everything we’ve accomplished and the challenges along the way. We implemented successful programs, identified new threats, addressed staff changes, completed special projects, and upgraded new safety measures.
Our K-12 Education programs exceeded any of our previous educational programming. We reached 10 schools, 40 teachers, and 900 students with a total of 140 hours of outreach.
The district lab completed major safety updates which allowed us to operate for the first time at a biological safety level two.
Our inaugural Invasive Species Cost-Share Reimbursement Program provided assistance for 232 landowners to manage invasive species on more than 7,340 acres throughout Teton County.
In previous years we ran 1-2 insecticide resistance tests using local mosquito pools. In the summer of 2022 we performed 22 tests which allowed us to detect direct evidence of insecticide resistance for the first time.
Our EDRR (Early Detection Rapid Response) staff diligently checked the locations of priority weeds. This summer over 48% of the mapped locations did not have any high priority invasive plants present. Our efforts allowed us to remove almost 10% of historic EDRR points.
One of our unique projects is our efforts to use trained dogs to sniff out specific invasive weeds to help us locate and eradicate priority species that threaten our waterways. For the third year, Working Dogs for Conservation aided our invasive plant crews on the Snake River. With their help, we discovered 16 new perennial pepperweed locations. Plus, our teams and crews were accompanied by a children’s book author who intends to feature these efforts in a book for 8 to 11 year-olds. This is a great way to educate the public outside of our typical programming efforts.
In October, surface and groundwater testing was conducted in four locations in Teton County. Although final results are still pending, initial data did not indicate any herbicide contamination or runoff. These findings are especially important because here at the district we prioritize environmental stewardship and responsibility. Although we wish to contain invasive species, we will not do so at the expense of any water, land, and wildlife that we hold dear.
The cooler spring delayed some plant growth which helped our invasive plant program and short-staffed crew to reach most priority locations with appropriate timing.
Our mosquito team conducted rigorous West Nile Virus testing and detected WNV near the town of Jackson. With this information, our team was able to focus our efforts on mosquito abatement practices in specific areas where WNV was more prevalent. Since public health and safety is the backbone of our mosquito program, we consider our focused efforts to be successful and efficient.
As always, every season at the district presents new and distinct challenges. This year we were able to identify, address, and overcome new weeds, pests, safety issues, threats, and setbacks.
Our cold, late spring brought late-season nuisance mosquitoes that were bothersome county-wide. Nevertheless, our mosquito and disease surveillance program efforts were executed with efficiency and excellent teamwork.
Our late season insecticide resistance tests revealed that we need to research and test for resistance in upcoming seasons. Although insecticide resistance is troubling, our knowledge that this issue exists gives us a headstart to address and combat this issue.
For the first time in over ten years, our staff discovered a new location of common teasel—an invasive plant that crowds out native plants around it.
Despite the fact that one of our spray trucks was involved in an accident with a dump truck on Highway 89, our crew was uninjured. In addition, we had two other vehicle incidents with our UTV’s. One UTV rolled and one was pinned against a tree. Again, none of our staff was injured.
After two full-time personnel moved on since the first of the year, we will assess our programmatic needs this fall.
….and that’s a wrap! We had a great 2022 season and can’t wait for the successes and challenges that next year brings.