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Mountain runner conquers weeds on Colonial Knob reserve

23 June 2017

Mountain runner conquers weeds on Colonial Knob reserve

Porirua endurance-runner Jean Beaumont is no stranger to big challenges. 100-mile runs over mountain ranges are her bread and butter. Her next cross-country challenge will require an added task – tackling the invasive weed tradescantia (also known as wandering willie) in Colonial Knob/Rangituhi Scenic Reserve.

During National Volunteer week (18-24 June) Jean is joining the Department of Conservation’s War on Weeds, as part of a pre-requisite for entry into an international 200-mile race in Washington state.

“The organisers require entrants to do eight hours of track work. It’s pretty common in the States to get runners to give back to maintaining the tracks we run on,” says Jean who uses the Colonial Knob trails for training.

“I saw a media report about volunteers pulling out the weed wandering willie in the reserve, and I see it every day on my runs, so I got in touch with DOC to see if I could help.”

Biodiversity ranger Dave Allen said it was a coincidence to hear from Jean.

“We know each other through the running community so it was cool to help Jean with her race entry, and get an extra pair of hands to clear tradescantia.”

The Department of Conservation’s War on Weeds is a national initiative to tackle invasive environmental weeds that are threatening our native habitats. When these weeds complete with native flora and fauna for sunlight and water, they can severely alter natural landscapes and threaten the survival of native plants and animals. Tradescantia is one of the “Dirty Dozen” weeds which are some of the worst weeds being targeted in the War on Weeds.

DOC’s team of staff and volunteers have been progressively clearing the ground-covering weed from shady gullies and waterways in Colonial Knob reserve. As mats of tradescantia are rolled out of the stream bed, muddy puddles form clear channels once more and native fish return.

Rangers then spray the piles of weed away from waterways. If no remnants are left to wash downstream, the weed is less likely to reinvade.

“I know Jean is super-fit and knows these trails well, so she will be a one-woman powerhouse in clearing weeds. Many hands make light work and her help is so much appreciated. It adds to the big collective team effort put in by so many volunteers across all our reserves.”

Jean’s next race in Washington will be the first time she had tackled a 200-mile event. The route starts at Mount St. Helens and involves more than 15,000 metres of ascent, the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest twice. Jean hopes to complete it by running continuously for three days and nights.


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