In Summit, no good weed goes unpunished
Lisa Taylor and Camille Dubroff from Summit County’s weed department each took the end of what looked like a giant paper scroll.
“Be prepared to be amazed,” Taylor said.
With every step back, the scroll became longer. The poster began to illustrate the root system of a leafy spurge. By the time the entire weed was exposed, the women stood on opposite sides of the room. The illustration the weed control workers unraveled was a life-size version of a weed that had been pulled.
The Leafy Spurge is an erect plant that can grow from 1 to 3 feet. Beneath the ground, the weed can grow 15 feet deep or more.
Little nodules along the root system help the leafy spurge reproduce.
“Each of those little nodes will create a new plant,” Taylor said.
The top of the plant also has a spreading capacity.
“When the leafs open it will shoot the seeds out 15 feet,” she said.
On top of that, if you try to chop the top off the weed, it will emit a milky substance that can burn you, Taylor said.
She said noxious weeds in Summit County take over because they out-compete the plants that are meant to grow in this area.
“They don’t have any natural checks and balances,” Taylor said. “They crowd out native plants and change the ecosystem of an area.”
Colorado has about 60 noxious weed invaders, and about 32 of those (including leafy spurge) have spread into Summit County, Taylor said.
The county’s weed control department is teaming up with local nonprofit organizations for a “Pulling For Colorado” event Saturday morning. Although Taylor doesn’t anticipate any volunteers will have to wrestle with the root system of a leafy spurge, she said there will be plenty of nuisance species to abolish from the ground.
Any one can take part in the event Saturday, which will begin at the community center in Frisco at 8 a.m. Volunteers will be treated to breakfast and will learn how to identify noxious weeds. From there, they will travel to different sites and begin a team weed eradication effort.
Volunteers might come across a variety of thistles — Canada thistle, musk thistle and the plumeless thistle — as well as chamomile daisy, oxeye daisy and common mullein.
Pull for Colorado organizers picked sites where noxious weed species could be pulled or dug — and there would be no need for spray. The event will take place in a communal environment, so people can learn and volunteer together.
“We decided we would like to keep everyone together to create a team feeling,” Taylor said. “Because when you are out the field the weeds can beat you down.”
The education component to the event is key, organizers said. Volunteers can use what they learned to help control noxious weeds in the future.
“If they are on a trail or in their yard and they see a weed, then they can pick it,” said weed technician Dubroff, “Once they start noticing them, it can help them be successful in their own weed management,” she said.
Taylor said she’s been impressed with locals understanding of the noxious weeds, but the problem is a constant battle to control. The goal on her part is to spread the word about noxious weeds faster than they can spread themselves.
“I want people to understand what we’re doing and why we are doing it, so they can be part of the solution,” Taylor said.
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