2006 Montana Noxious Weed Trust Fund Grant Text

V. Description of Project
Project Title and Sponsor: Whitehall Biological Weed Control Project, Inc.  Organizational number: D-127944, Type 53, Nonprofit.  Educational: with a Biological, Mapping and Research component.  Sponsored by: Whitehall Biological Weed Control Project, Inc., Whitehall Schools.  Contact Person: Todd Breitenfeldt.


1.      Purpose: The project will: 1) educate local land owners about Integrated Pest Management (IPM) through personal contacts, bio-agent releases and a local IPM brochure, 2) mass rear biological control agents of spotted knapweed in insectaries in Whitehall, MT for distribution, 2) GPS/GIS map weeds as requested by the Jefferson County Weed Board, 3) monitor biological control agent release sites in Jefferson and Madison Counties, 3) collect, distribute and redistribute (augment) biological control agents, 4) educate and cooperate with all private and public area weed fighters, and 5) increase the number of other similar projects through classes, demonstrations, tours and other work shops both on and offsite.

2.      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 and greatly expanded in 1999 under Weed District Coordinator Dave Burch.  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: 1) 2 teachers and 3 students in Whitehall, 2) 7 knapweed insectaries, 3) over 130 landowners who have over 500 bioagent release sites, and 4) an educational weekly summer newspaper column about noxious weeds and the project in several local news papers.  The project has facilitated the start up and continuation of over 10 other similar bio-control/mapping projects based at various Montana schools in: Colstrip, Townsend, Augusta, Ennis, Harrison, Victor, Darby, Missoula (Target Range and Hellgate Middle School), Eureka, Troy, Roundup and Superior, among others.        

Importance: Education, mapping and bio-control are three of the many tools in the IPM toolbox and are major components of the Montana State Noxious Weed Plan.  This project enhances these tools for Jefferson and Madison Counties and serves as a model for other counties and groups.  The importance of this project to the Counties is large due to the hundreds of biocontrol releases, educated landowners, weed mapping, bio-control efficacy studies, student involvement, 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 Project is a way for landowners to reduce noxious weed populations with little financial burden.  We are also having trouble finding large patches of mature spotted knapweed plants near Whitehall to transplant into our insectaries in our Southern Jefferson County area.  Therefore, we must travel into Butte or Harrison to collect knapweed (all the local sites we have used in the past have been controlled or have root feeding bioagents established in them). 

If the bio-agents produced by the project in 2003 had been sold on the open market, they would have had a value of $51,835.  In 2004: $210,175 and in 2005: $194,325.

If Nothing Is Done: If this project is not funded, the work of the past will be lost along with the potential insects produced from the insectaries, local release sites and collection trips will be wasted.  The insectary will have to be sprayed out, the educational benefits will be decreased, and less bio-control insects will be produced.  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 new programs that have started will loose assistance and fewer new programs of this nature will be started through out the State.  The educational benefits to students will be lost.  Weed mapping, a local IPM brochure and bio-control agent efficacy studies will not be completed.  <>

            2. Cooperative Participation: Cooperators include: 1) Jefferson County Weed District 2) Madison County Weed District, 3) Montana Department of Transportation, 4) Whitehall Schools, 5) many private and industry land owners (over 130), 6) USDA Forest Service, 7) USDA, APHIS, PPQ, and 8) The Jefferson River Watershed Council and 9) BLM - Dillon and Butte Field Offices. 

            3. Location of Project Area: Jefferson/Madison Counties and cooperators lands as requested.

            4. Benefits:

            1) Educational: We contact landowners to educate them about IPM and to monitor and redistribute their biocontrol agents.  We 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.  We will produce a locally focused IPM brochure.  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 self-funded mtwow.org web site for all to use.


            2) Mapping:  We will assist the Jefferson County Weed Board in weed mapping.  We will provide easy to locate records and photos of 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.


3) Research: We will set up several long-term bio-agent efficacy studies in Jefferson County to produce local data about the effectiveness of bio-agents and other weed control measures. 


4) Collection, Mass Rearing, and Redistribution of Biocontrol Agents: We will continue to pursue these activities as requested by the County, cooperators and landowners.


5) Establish New Programs: We will help similar new programs continue and start. We will hold a 3-day +2 summer class in Whitehall July 11-15th, 2006 that includes a 2-day extension to Grassrange to collect leafy spurge flea beetles conjunction with the BLM.  Contact Dan Williams, MT DOT 406-444-7604 and Vic Roberts, BLM 406-538-1907 for more information. [See cost of 2006 summer class breakdown in section IV. B. #4.] 

[We will also hold a June, 2006 three-day class in Boise, ID for teachers through out the West in conjunction with (and funded by) the Forest Service.  Contact Linda Reese, USDA Forest Service 801-625-5254 for more information.  This June class is not part of this grant request.]

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

            Supports State and County Weed Management Plans: The Whitehall Biological Weed Control Project, Inc., Whitehall Schools 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. 

VI. Specific Objectives and Methodology:
A.     Objectives:   <>1) Educational: To produce a local IPM brochure.  To provide tours, classes, workshops, newspaper articles, and talks about IPM weed control and the program.   To periodically contact landowners who have mapped biocontrol release sites to educate them about IPM.   To tie all this activity into weed education at the County Schools and on the mtwow.org web site.

2) Mapping:  To assist Jefferson County Weed Board in weed mapping as requested.  To GPS/GIS map (and maintain accurate, easy to follow directions to the sites), photograph and monitor biocontrol release sites in Madison/Jefferson Counties.

3) Research: To begin several long-term bio-agent/IPM efficacy studies within Jefferson County.

4) 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 Dalmatian/yellow toadflax.  To make several out of County bio-agent collection trips if possible.  However, the emphasis will be on in-County releases/collections and local public collections.

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)

1.      Mapping: The Project area includes Jefferson/Madison Counties.  Weeds (as requested) and bio-release sites will be mapped.


2.   Control Measures: Include the biocontrol agents: 1) Aphthona spp., 2) Larinus minutus, 3) Oberea erythrocephala, 4) Cyphocleonus achates, 5) Agapeta zoegana, 6) Mecinus janthinus, and 7) others as available.

The Project Sponsor is Whitehall Biological Weed Control Project, Inc.  Todd Breitenfeldt 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 crews use their own vehicles for travel and are paid mileage.  Communications are maintained between Jefferson/Madison Counties, Whitehall, and all parties involved via E‑mail and phone calls, along with periodic visits and inspections by the counties and other cooperators.


3. Environmental Mitigation: N/A


            4. Education Programs: A major focus of this project is educating local landowners about IPM.  A locally orientated IPM brochure will be produced and distributed.  Many tours, classes, public education days, booths and other educational efforts occur.


1.      2006 class description:  The 2006 summer class will occur July 11-15th.  It will consist of 3 days in Whitehall and will emphasize “how-to” replicate the strategies of this project.  It will also include an optional 2-day trip to Grassrange to collect large numbers of leafy spurge flea beetles with the teachers and BLM (Permission for this secured from Vic Roberts, BLM bio-control).  Ten teachers [attendees] will receive 3 days hotel in Whitehall and one day in Lewistown, a maximum of $100.00 for travel, a sweep net, meals, class supplies, and a portion of the bio-agents collected if they have County approved release sites available in their area.


            2.   2006 summer class budget:

                        Advertising = $1000

                        Hotel for 10 (3 days) in Whitehall @ $55.00/person = $1,500

                        Travel for 10 (max $100.00/person) = $1,000

                        Sweep nets (10) = $500

                        Whitehall meals = $200

                        Class supplies = $400 (for presenters and attendees)

                        Grassrange collection trip:

                        Hotel: 4 rooms @ $70 for one night = $280

                        Lewistown meals = $130



            Education programs will also include project tours, weekly area newspaper articles, speaking at organization meetings, booths at local fairs, and of course land owner education, education, education!

            5. Data Analysis: The teachers and crew will organize the collection and release site data.  Bio-agent efficacy research will be conducted.


            C. Cooperative Agreements:

1.      Jefferson/Madison Counties Weed District: The Whitehall Biological Weed Control Project, Inc., Whitehall Schools will work with the Jefferson/Madison Counties Weed Boards and Coordinators.

2.      Whitehall, Schools: The schools provide a lab/classroom, computers, power, land and water for the project, greenhouse and insectaries plus some equipment, all as matching. 

3.   Over 140 private landowners: Have come to rely on the services provided by the project.

            4.   USDA Forest Service: Helped in 2004-5 as the fire crewmembers pulled and transplanted knapweed  (5000+ plants) from Butte into the insectaries.  We have and will cooperate on several educational efforts.  We also monitor many of their bio-release sites in Jefferson/Madison Counties.  They usually have an employee drive with us to these sites when monitoring.


                        D. Evaluation:  Success will be measured by meeting or surpassing the goals listed above with emphasis on education, mapping and bio-agents.  Field collected insect numbers will vary each year (depending on the weather, site history, needs, 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.  Advertise for summer class.

Late Winter: Interview and hire 3 Whitehall Students and an accountant.

            Spring: Repair winter damage to insectaries and greenhouse.  Prep beds for summer.

Late Spring: Fix/replace flashing and till and prepare insectary beds for transplanting.   Transplant knapweed plants into the insectaries to replace those killed by the weevils and moths.  Water, weed, and fertilize these plants until fall.  Set up cages in insectaries and/or at field site releases.

Summer: Plan and hold summer class.  Call all landowners with releases 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 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 biocontrol species.  GPS map and maintain a database of all release sites.  Train 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.]  Map weeds and set up research sites.  Plan release sites to maximize chances of biocontrol agent establishment and spread, as well as County wide coverage.  Plan and lead tours, field trips and workshops about the project and weed control/IPM in general.  Complete final preparation of insectaries for emergence of moths and weevils.  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 cooperators and schools.  Take down insect cages. 

            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.

            Winter: Plan for next year.


            B. Long-Term Commitment: Continue to have well established and expanding bio-release 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 produce weed maps and continue research activities. To have an ever-expanding group of landowners well educated about IPM.  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 continue to increase funding from local sources.


VII. Supporting Documents:

-Bioagent Collection Numbers and Market Value of Bioagents Distributed in 2003-5

            -Letters of support and cooperation.



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).

2004 = 2,778  (This is probably a final number for the summer.  We held several public collection days.  Numbers were lower than last year for 2 reasons: 1) a lack of spurge at our major collection site, and 2) we did not emphasize collection of this bio-agent as much because Oberea are becoming established through out much of our area and most of our local flea beetle collections include a number of Oberea.  The Oberea collected along with flea beetles are not included in the 2004 Oberea total.)

2005 = 2,485  (We collected less because they are fairly well established on all spurge patches within the County)

            Larinus minutus:

                        2002 = 7,840  (2,400 collected by public on net day)

2003 = 17,468 (3,000 collected by public on net day, APHIS 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.)

2004 = 22,360 (we held several public collection days and we are still collecting these)

2005 = 23,695  (We collected less because they are fairly well established through out the County)

            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.)

2004 = 1,827,500.  (We collected 1,600,000 at Grassrange, the rest locally, mostly A. lacertosa.  Of which 400,000 went to Dillon BLM & 200,000 to Butte BLM)

2005 = 1,611,000 (We collected 1,500,000 at Grassrange this year with the help of the teachers and students from the summer class and several BLM employees, the rest locally)

Cyphocleonus achates:

            2001 = 3,381

            2002 = 1,011

2003 = 2,272  (expanded and replanted insectaries should produce more in the next 2 yrs.)

2004 = 2,431

2005 = 2,721 (we are doing more field collecting from well established sites)

Agapeta zoegana:

            2001 = 500

            2002 = 500

2003 = 700 (these numbers seem to hold quite steady, all collected out of the insectaries).

2004 = 605

2005 = 1,604 (We used our new insect vacuums from Jefferson Co. to field collect more)

Mecinus janthinus:

2003 = 500 (received from Washington State).

2004 = 800 (these were received by Madison and Jefferson Counties and we purchased 2 releases).

2005 = 1,000 received by Jefferson and Madison Counties.



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

Total……………………………………………………….. $51,835


Market Value of Bioagents Distributed in 2004:

Aphthona spp.:  1,827,500/500 = 3,655 releases of 500 @ $50 = $182,750 (We released in units of 3,000 or 7,500 however, many of the larger releases were divided into multiple releases by the land owners).

Oberea erythrocephala:  2,778/110 = 25 releases of 110 @ $225 = $5,625

Larinus minutus:  22,360/105 = 212 releases of 110 @ $100 = $21,200

Cyphocleonus achates: 0/105 = 22 releases of 105 @  $105 =  $0.0

Agapeta zoegana: 315/105 = 3 releases of 105 @ $200 =  $600

Total……………………………………………………….. $210,175


Market Value of Bioagents Collected/Distributed by WHE Project in 2005:

Aphthona spp.:  1,611,500/500 = 3,223 releases of 500 @ $50 = $161,150 

[1,500,000 collected on Grassrange trip with BLM and Teachers attending Whitehall Project summer class.  BLM and teachers took many releases (about 1/3) to their lands and counties for their programs.  The rest were released locally by many happy landowners.]

Oberea erythrocephala:  2,485/110 = 22 releases of 110 @ $225 = $4,950
Larinus minutus:  24,165/105 = 230 releases of 105 @ $100 = $23,000
Cyphocleonus achates: 2,721 = 25 releases of 105 @  $105 =  $2,625
Agapeta zoegana: 1,400/105 = 13 releases of 105 @ $200 =  $2,600

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