Department of Parks and Recreation   Comments

In announcing a May, 1999 public meeting on gorse control in Jughandle State Reserve, Greg Picard, Superintendent for State Parks in Mendocino County, said, "In 1996, the Parks Department replaced the prior, successful integrated gorse management program, which included selective herbicide use, with one based solely on manual methods and volunteer labor. The new program has been ineffective, and large areas of the Reserve are on the verge of being taken over by gorse. Some of these areas contain rare and endangered plant species. Gorse grows at a geometric rate, so quick action is needed to prevent serious damage to the ecology of the reserve."

The Parks Department staff who have had experience in controlling gorse at Jughandle believe that selective use of a herbicide is an essential element in an effective, integrated management program for gorse. Previous programs have relied heavily on mechanical and hand removal, supplemented by use of an herbicide on the borders of disced areas, on small plants in areas of moderate to heavy infestation, and on resprouts of previously cut plants.

During the summer of 1999, Parks initiated tests of alternative methods of gorse control, including steam, fire, vinegar, corn gluten, black plastic, and shade cloth. The hope is to find alternatives that can reduce or eliminate the need for any herbicide use. However, until such alternatives are identified, selective use of a herbicide will remain critical to a successful control program, according to Renee Pasquinelli, staff ecologist.

For further information, contact Renee Pasquinelli, Department of Parks and Recreation, 937-5804, extension 8111.