2005 NWTF NRCS Grant Text
Whitehall, Harrison & Ennis Biocontrol Project
Educational: Biological, Demonstration

IV. Description of Project

Project Title and Sponsor: Whitehall, Harrison & Ennis Biocontrol Project: Educational: Biological, Demonstration.  Sponsored by: Madison County Weed District, Weed Coordinator: Bob Wagner.  Contact Person: Todd Breitenfeldt, Whitehall Biological Weed Control Project, Inc. (nonprofit, Filing number: D127944 – 494918).

B. Introduction:
    1. Purpose: The project will: 1) mass rear biological control agents of spotted knapweed in insectaries in Whitehall, Harrison and Ennis, MT for distribution, 2) GPS/GIS map and monitor biological control agent release sites in Madison and Jefferson Counties, 3) collect, distribute and redistribute (augment) biological control agents, 4) educate and cooperate with all private and public weed fighters, and 5) facilitate the start up of other similar projects through demonstration, tours and work shops both on and offsite.
History: This Project started in the early 1990's through the efforts of then Jefferson County Weed Supervisor Pat Kountz and Whitehall Science Teacher Todd Breitenfeldt.  This successful cooperative project has grown from a volunteer project with one small insectary, a greenhouse, and a few release sites to a model educational/demonstration project including two teachers and 3 students in Whitehall, 7 knapweed insectaries in Whitehall, over 450 bioagent release sites, other projects modeled after this one, and a weekly summer newspaper column about noxious weeds and the project in several local news papers.
    Importance: Education and biocontrol are two of the many tools in the IPM toolbox.  This project enhances both of these tools for Madison and Jefferson Counties and serves as a model for other counties and groups.  The importance of this project to Madison County and Jefferson County is large due to the hundreds of biocontrol releases, educated landowners and students, and the mapping, monitoring, and redistributing of bioagents.  Spotted/diffuse knapweed, leafy spurge, and Dalmatian/yellow toadflax (the major focus of the project so far) are five weeds that reduce production for farmers and ranchers, decrease habitat for wildlife, and add a financial burden for landowners.  The Whitehall project is a way for landowners to reduce noxious weed populations with little or no financial burden.  We are also having trouble finding large patches of mature spotted knapweed plants to transplant into our insectaries in our Southern Jefferson County area and must travel into Butte or Harrison to collect (all the sites we have used in the past have been sprayed and pulled out or have bioagent release sites). 
    If Nothing Is Done: If this project is not funded, the work of the past will be lost and the potential insects produced from the insectaries and local release sites will be wasted.  The insectary will have to be sprayed out, the educational benefits will be decreased, and Jefferson and Madison Counties, and the other Montana Counties that receive insects from our collections may miss out on the collection of usable “bursts” of bioagents in the field.  The private landowners in the area will miss out on the usual site monitoring, redistribution of bioagents and educational contact that they have come to rely on.  The educational benefits that occur at teacher conventions, workshops, and by bringing students to the MWCA annual meeting will be lost.

    2. Cooperative Participation: Cooperators include: 1) Madison County Weed District, 2) Jefferson County Weed District, 3) BLM - Dillon and Butte Field Offices, 4) Whitehall Schools, 5) many private land owners (over 120), 6) USDA Forest Service, 7) The Nature Conservancy, 8) the Madison Valley Ranch Lands Weed Group, and 9) USDA, APHIS, PPQ.
    Because Jefferson County has had budgetary problems for several years it was decided to form a nonprofit corporation: Whitehall Biological Weed Control Project, Inc. and run the funding of this nonprofit corporation through Madison County for 2004.

1)    Educational: We contacted many landowners (over 120) to educate them about IPM and to monitor and redistribute their biocontrol agents.  We held educational tours and workshops (over 10), produce a weekly summer column (Whitehall Weed Whackers) about noxious weed control in several local papers featuring the project and selected articles from the mtwow.org web site written by WHS students. [See some of the articles attached.]  We spoke, taught or had booths at over 10 organization meetings.  Tied all this activity into weed education at Whitehall High School and placed much noxious weed how﷓to information on the mtwow.org web site for all to use.

2)    Establish New Programs: We have helped start similar independent programs in: Townsend, Augusta, and Warm Springs and are planning new cooperative programs in Harrison and Ennis.

3)    Collection, Mass Rearing, and Redistribution of Biocontrol Agents:  We collect from field sites, mass rear in insectaries, locate release sites, and redistribute bioagents as the owners see fit.  We hold public collection (net) days (5).  [see attached for bioagent collection history].

4)    Mapping: We GPS/GIS map all release sites (over 450) and keep photos and electronic and paper data at each County and school involved.

5)    Cooperation: We brought together many aspects of the community (students, general public, landowners, industry, town, county, state and federal governments and land management agencies) to increase weed awareness and weed fighting efforts.

    3. Location of Project Area: Madison and Jefferson Counties (and other cooperators lands as requested).  Insectaries located at Whitehall, Harrison and Ennis Schools.  Also, provide insects to MT Counties (28 in 2003) and Washington State in conjunction with USDA, APHIS, PPQ.

    4. Benefits:
    1) Educational: We will contact landowners to educate them about IPM and to monitor and redistribute their biocontrol agents.  We will hold educational tours and workshops, produce a weekly summer column (Whitehall Weed Whackers) about noxious weed control in several local papers featuring the project and selected articles from the mtwow.org web site written by WHS students. [See some of the articles attached.]  We will speak, teach and/or have booths at many organization meetings.  And, tie all this activity into weed education at Whitehall, Harrison and Ennis High Schools.  We will continue to place much noxious weed how﷓to information on the mtwow.org web site for all to use.

2) Establish New Programs: We will continue to help existing programs and will set up and train the personal at Harrison and Ennis Schools.  We will hold a 3-day for credit workshop Aug. 9-11, 2004 (funded by an HB-223 grant from Jefferson Valley Conservation District) all about how to duplicate the program.

3) Collection, Mass Rearing, and Redistribution of Biocontrol Agents: We will continue to pursue these activities as directed by the Counties and land owners.  We will continue to cooperate with USDA, APHIS, PPQ and the Montana State Biocontrol efforts to provide extra bioagents to other Counties.  [See attached for bioagent collection history]

4) Mapping:  We will provide easy to locate records and photos of all release sites in Jefferson and Madison Counties using GPS units, GIS computer mapping and paper records maintained at each County Weed District and High School.  

5) Cooperation: We will continue to work with our traditional cooperators and attempt to foster more cooperation within the Counties and the State.

Supports State and County Weed Management Plans: The Whitehall Project provides educational, mapping, and cooperative benefits as well as biocontrol efforts for the “IPM tool chest” as mentioned in the State and County Weed Management Plans.

5. & 6. Not applying for FWP or Cooperative Forestry Assistance funds.

V. Specific Objectives and Methodology:
A.    Objectives:

1) Educational: To train one teacher and student each at Harrison and Ennis Schools to replicate the complete program including a knapweed insectary at each school.  The goal for Harrison and Ennis is to make them self-sufficient as soon as possible.  To provide tours, classes, workshops, newspaper articles, and talks about the program and IPM.   To yearly contact all landowners who have mapped biocontrol release sites to educate them about IPM.   To tie all this activity into weed education at the Schools and on the mtwow.org web site.  This includes Teacher Conventions and the annual MWCA meeting. 

2) Establish New Programs:  To continue to advise similar programs.  To add Harrison and Ennis schools to the complete program with insectaries at each school.  To provide a class and how-to information for others who wish to replicate all or parts of the program.  To provide insects to new programs, if available.

3) Collection, Mass Rearing, and Redistribution of Biocontrol Agents:  To continue to collect, mass rear, and redistribute bioagents.  Also, monitor and augment existing release sites.  Major emphasis will be placed on bioagents for: leafy spurge, spotted/diffuse knapweed, and Dalmation/yellow toadflax.  To make several out of County collection trips including: 1) Washington State with USDA, APHIS, PPQ to collect toadflax stem borers, and 2) Grassrange area with the Dillon BLM to collect leafy spurge flea beetles.  However, the emphasis will be on in-Counties collections and public collection.  [See attached for bioagent collection history].  All out of county bioagent recipients will be charged for their insects and in Counties land owners will be asked to make a voluntary donation to the program.

4) Mapping:  To GPS/GIS map (and maintain accurate, easy to follow directions to the sites), photograph and monitor biocontrol release sites in Madison and Jefferson Counties. 

5) Cooperation: To bring together all aspects of the community (students, general public, landowners, industry, city, county, state and federal governments and land management agencies) to increase weed awareness and control weeds. 

    B. Plan of Work: (Numbers 1, 2 and 3 may not all apply)
The Project Sponsor is Madison County.  The funds will be administered and hiring will be done by the nonprofit corporation: Whitehall Biological Weed Control Project, Inc.
Todd Breitenfeldt the Whitehall Project Biocontrol Coordinator and WHS science teacher directly supervises and works with a crew of another WHS teacher and 3 WHS students.  This crew is based out of the Whitehall High School Science room and lab room at WHS and maintains the greenhouse and insectaries on WHS property.  The Whitehall crew will help the teachers and students based at Harrison and Ennis construct insectaries and supervise and train them on all activities involved to meet the goals of the project. 
The crews use their own vehicles for travel and are paid mileage.  Communications are maintained between Jefferson/Madison Counties, Whitehall, Ennis, Harrison and all parties involved via E﷓mail and phone calls, along with periodic visits and inspections by the counties.  A monthly report will be submitted to Madison County.
    4. Education Programs: A major focus of this project is the demonstration of a successful set of weed fighting strategies.  This will include project tours, how-to classes, newspaper articles, speaking at organization meetings, and of course land owner education, education, education!
    5. Data Analysis: The teachers and crew will organize the collection and release site data.  Mr. Breitenfeldt will see that copies of these data end up with each County, school and interested cooperator.

    C. Cooperative Agreements:
1.    Madison County Weed District: will be Project Sponsor and will cooperate with the Whitehall Biological Weed Control Project, Inc., a nonprofit organization.
2.    Whitehall Biological Weed Control Project, Inc.:  will administer the project funds through a local bank using a local accountant.  Four teachers and 5 students will be employed.
3.    Jefferson County Weed District: will provide the equipment the project has purchased in the past.     
4.   BLM - Dillon & Butte Field Offices: The Butte Field Office has a cooperative agreement with Whitehall Biological Weed Control Project, Inc..  The Dillon Field Office joined with Madison County in cooperating with the Project.
4.    Whitehall, Harrison and Ennis Schools: The schools provide a lab/classroom, computers, power, land and water for the project, greenhouse and insectaries plus some equipment, all as matching. 
6.   Over 120 private landowners: Have come to rely on the services provided by the project.
    7.   USDA Forest Service: Helped in 2003 as 14 fire crewmembers pulled and transplanted knapweed  (7000+ plants) from Butte into 2 reworked insectaries and 1 new insectary in Whitehall.  We have and will cooperate on several educational efforts.  We also monitor many of their biorelease sites in Jefferson and Madison Counties.  They usually have an employee drive with us to these sites each year.

    D. Evaluation: Success will be measured by meeting or surpassing the goals listed above.  Field collected insect numbers should increase each year (depending on the weather, site history, land management, etc.) and insectary numbers bounce up and down depending on how hard the plants have been impacted by the root borers each year.  The Madison and Jefferson County Weed Districts and, Butte and Dillon BLM will monitor the program.

IV. Time Schedule:
    A. Time Frames:

School Year: The Biology students will work on the mtwow.org web site (now self funded) and attend the MWCA annual convention.  The Horticulture class will use the greenhouse 2nd semester. 
Late Winter: Interview and hire 3 Whitehall Students and one each from Harrison and Ennis.  The Harrison and Ennis teachers have already been chosen and are excited about beginning the project.  Grow example weeds for summer demonstrations.
Spring: Repair winter damage to insectaries and greenhouse.
Late Spring: Fix/replace flashing and till and prepare insectary beds for transplanting.  Create new insectaries in Harrison and Ennis. 
Transplant knapweed plants into the insectaries to replace the ones killed by the weevils and moths.  Water, weed, and fertilize these plants until fall.  Set up cages in insectaries or at field site releases.
Summer: Call all landowners with releases (over 120) and ask them what they want done this year with their sites, and do so.  Make a list of landowners who want biocontrol releases.  Prioritize release sites (over 420) monitoring schedule to: 1) meet land owners schedules, 2) increase probability of finding sites with high numbers of biocontrol agents for potential net (collection for redistribution) days, and 3) match times with insect life cycles and the effects of weather on over 20 biocontrol species.  GPS map and maintain a database of all release sites.  Train Harrison and Ennis crews.  Set up net days for public to collect excess biocontrol agents for redistribution.  Collect and redistribute biocontrol agents as available [Oberea erythrocephala,  Larinus minutus, Aphthona spp., Cyphocleonus achates, Agapeta zoegana, Sphenoptera jugoslavica, and Mecinus janthinus.]  Ship biocontrol agent releases to weed fighters who attended the weed education workshop and other needy parties throughout Montana.  Plan release sites to maximize chances of biocontrol agent establishment and spread, as well as Countywide coverage.  Plan and lead tours, classes, field trips and workshops about the project and weed control/IPM in general.  Facilitate the start up and continuance of other similar programs.  Final preparation of insectaries for emergence of moths and weevils.  Hand collect moths and weevils out of insectaries for distribution.  Release insects received by the Counties from outside sources.  Help with general County weed fighting activities as needed.  Update maps.
Late Summer: Have classes of students help collect weevils from insectaries and help with redistribution.  Finalize summer database and distribute to Counties and schools.  Take down insect cages.  Collect any outstanding bills for out of county insect releases.
Fall: WHS students collect and release weevils from insectaries.  Winterize greenhouse.  Present weed education workshop at Teacher Conventions in October including releases to teachers willing to use biocontrol agents in their educational curriculum.  Winterize insectaries in November.
Winter: Attend MWCA annual convention with several students.

    B. Long-Term Commitment: To have well established and expanding biorelease sites in all large noxious weed patches and management areas within both Counties and to monitor these sites to take advantage of bursts of usable insects.  To serve as a demonstration site and spring board for new and continuing projects of a similar nature.  To enhance noxious weed control education and awareness.  To meet the goals of the Montana State Noxious Weed Plan.  To increase funding from local sources.

VII. Supporting Documents:
-Bioagent Collection Numbers History.
- Market Value of Bioagents Distributed in 2003.
    -Letters of support from cooperators and biorelease site owners.
    -Example Weed Whacker articles from newspapers.

Bioagent Collection Numbers History:

    Oberea erythrocephala:
        2000 = 250
        2001 = 500
        2002 = 1,567  (500 collected by public on net day)
        2003 = 3,160   (over 800 collected by public on net days, often mixed with flea beetles).

    Larinus minutus:
        2002 = 7,840  (2,400 collected by public on net day)
    2003 = 17,468 (3,000 collected by public on net day, ARS collected with us and shipped weevils to 28 MT counties and Washington State).  Our collection site looks to be even better next year if the number of damaged seed heads is any indication.

    Aphthona spp.:
2002 =  535,000 (over half collected on a Grassrange trip) of which 234,000 were released into Jefferson and Madison Counties in about 78 releases/augments of 3,000 flea beetles each.  The remaining flea beetles went to the BLM, and the three new programs like ours in Augusta, Townsend and Warm Springs (the State game ranges near Anaconda and Deerlodge).  Therefore, 138 new area releases or augments were created just within the 2 Counties.
2003 = 252,000 We did not go to Grassrange to collect however, 108,000 of these were brought to our net day by ARS.  Therefore, 144,000 were collected locally, many by the public at net collection days.  Several of our A. lacertosa sites are just ready to really take off and produce large numbers in 2004/5.  We have a collection trip planned with Dillon BLM to the Grassrange area for 2004.

Cyphocleonus achates:
    2001 = 3,381
    2002 = 1,011
2003 = 2,272  (expanded and replanted insectaries should produce more in the next 2 yrs.)
Agapeta zoegana:
    2001 = 500
    2002 = 500
    2003 = 700 (these numbers seem to hold quite steady, all collected out of the insectaries).

Sphenoptera jugoslavica:
    2003 = 7 (collected in Helena area along with 3000 Larinus minutus.  We are planning to collect more of these next year.).

Mecinus janthinus:
2003 = 500 (received from Washington State.  We are planning a trip to WA with USDA, APHIS, PPQ to collect many of these in 2004.).
Market Value of Bioagents Distributed in 2003:

Aphthona spp.:  252,000/500 = 504 releases of 500 @ $50 = $25,200

Oberea erythrocephala:  3160/110 = 29 releases of 110 @ $225 = $6,525

Larinus minutus:  17,468/105 = 166 releases of 110 @ $100 = $16,600

Cyphocleonus achates: 2,272/105 = 22 releases of 105 @  $105 =  $2,310

Agapeta zoegana: 700/105 = 6 releases of 105 @ $200 =  $1,200