‘Search and destroy’: Weed warriors will tackle toadflax in Eagles Nest wilderness | SummitDaily.com

‘Search and destroy’: Weed warriors will tackle toadflax in Eagles Nest wilderness

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

SUMMIT COUNTY ” It may seem like a never-ending battle, but that doesn’t mean local weed warriors will be giving up any time soon.

Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the National Forest Foundation generated by funds donated by ski-area guests and matched by resorts, the Friends of the Eagles Nest Wilderness once again was able to eradicate invasive weeds along several miles of local wilderness trails.

“It’s a search-and-destroy mission,” John Pickering said Thursday morning, loading a couple of tanks of herbicides on to his mules at the North Tenmile trailhead.

After similar treks in other drainages leading into the Gore Range, Pickering said he was targeting several populations of toadflax.

Invasive plants like toadflax displace native vegetation and degrade wildlife habitat.

In grazing areas, the noxious weeds can have a significant economic impact by reducing the amount of pasture available for cattle.

Pickering’s weed-killing jaunt along the North Tenmile Creek trail is aimed at protecting the biological integrity of the wilderness area.

“It stops the spread of weeds into the wilderness,” said Lisa Taylor, head of Summit County’s weed-fighting program. “Unfortunately, in Pebble Creek, the oxeye daisy has already spread into the wilderness. I don’t know if it’s worse or better this year.”

Pickering said he noticed an increase of weeds in riverside zones, where spring flooding from high snowmelt disturbed the soil.

Many weeds are opportunistic species, taking advantage of bare ground to colonize new territory.

“Sometimes I think we’re getting a handle on it. Other years, it seems to be getting worse,” he said.

Pickering and Taylor said their work in Summit County is made easier by the fact that local residents are aware of the weed issue and are generally supportive of control efforts.

Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at bberwyn@summitdaily.com.

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