The spiny-looking weed covering the hillsides—skeleton weed—is a Russian native, but it is here to stay, and its presence is changing Hull’s Gulch, and entire Western landscapes, forever. Skeleton weed and other invading weeds spread aggressively where soils are stirred up by walking and biking off-trail, for example, or by concentrated grazing or wildlife use. Areas burned by wildfire are also especially vulnerable to weed invasion.
Hull’s Gulch is an example of a fire-damaged landscape that became vulnerable to invasion. In places, stands of skeleton weed are so dense that desirable plants needed by birds and wildlife can’t gain a foothold. These dense stands also choke our passage along trails. When these problems multiply across Idaho, and across rangelands everywhere in the West, the challenge is enormous.