TELLURIDE — With the Valley Floor now protected under a conservation easement and a plan to manage the property in place, the Open Space Commission is going to put the stewardship portion of the plan into action this Thursday, Aug. 13 during a weed pull, and all are invited to join in getting their hands dirty.
The morning event takes place between 9 and 11 a.m. and will target scentless chamomile (Matricaria perforata) and musk thistle (Carduus nutans).
“These two plants are being targeted because they can be successfully hand-pulled,” said San Miguel County Weed Manager Sheila Grother.
The two noxious weeds are identified by the Colorado Department of Agriculture as List B species whose further spread the state seeks to prevent.
Native to Europe, scentless chamomile is an annual, biennial or short-lived perennial forb. It’s daisy-like flowers feature a yellow center surrounded by white petals and each can produce 300 seeds, according to a CDOA fact sheet.
Because those on the Valley Floor are annuals that contain a simple root system, scentless chamomile is relatively easy to control.
“When they are hand-pulled you eliminate the plant,” said Grother, adding that only a few plants remain on the Valley Floor.
“It’s more of a teaching exercise so people can recognize them elsewhere,” she said.
Musk thistle (Carduus nutans), a native to western Europe that was introduced into the eastern United States in the early 19th century, is a biennial forb that is found in disturbed and overgrazed areas as well as on rangeland, roadsides, ditches, riparian areas, and trails.
Because its roots are deeper than scentless chamomile, musk thistle is more difficult to control, said Grother.
According to information compiled by the Plant Conservation Alliance’s Alien
Plant Working Group, invasive plants can impact native plants, animals and ecosystems in a number of ways by: reducing native biological diversity, altering hydrologic conditions and flooding regimes, altering soil characteristics, altering fire intensity and frequency, and interfering with natural succession.
Additionally, they can compete for native pollinators, repel or poison native insects, displace rare plant species, increase predation on native birds, serve as reservoirs of plant pathogens, replace complex communities with monocultures, and dilute the genetic composition of native species through hybridization.
“This will be a great opportunity to learn specific stewardship skills that everybody can do,” said Program Manager Lance McDonald, who serves as the town staff liaison to the OSC.
Volunteers should meet at the west end of the Valley Floor in the parking lot across from Lawson Hill at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 13. Tools will be provided, but bring your own gloves and water.