SELMA, Ore. — Firefighters are making sure their duty to protect the lands doesn’t stop once they return to the camp. The damage caused by the flames is only one of the many concerns for crew working in the Southern Oregon wilderness.
“The Weed Wash Unit” is exactly what it sounds like. Washers make sure to get any seeds or spores from noxious weeds washed off. Noxious weeds are non-native plants that cause harm to the environment.
The invasive plants spread fast, out-competes native plants and can even be harmful to animals. Currently, there are 118 weeds on Oregon’s noxious weed list. Some of the worst kinds out there: a root rot disease that quickly kills trees.
In order to reduce any noxious weeds from spreading, the U.S. Forest Service requires every car to get washed before and after a visit to the fire lines. The agency ordered h-2-o wild-fire services to set up the weed wash unit across from the incident base. The company says it travels to various counties to offer its services.
“I think we actually have four counties, four, five different counties we can go to. We go all the way to Redding and obviously Josephine County,” said James Billups, with H2O Oregon Wildfire Services.
Employees say they’re equipped with industrial sprays. They pull water from the lake or bring in a water truck to fill its tank. They also make sure to wash the tarp the cars sit on to reduce spreading. To make sure the noxious weeds don’t spread, washers spray the tires as the cars drive away.