In exchange for a chance to see the Black Crowes at the Blues and Brews Festival, discounts at local stores or other benefits, volunteers turned out in what Greenbucks Partnership Coordinator and project supervisor Sarah Scott called, "one of the best turn outs of the year." The effort will hopefully keep the yellow flowering weed, better known as butter and eggs, from further encroachment toward Telluride's high alpine basins.
"I looked for it in wildflower books and couldn't find it anywhere," explained Alessandra Jacobson, who has lived at the Bridal Veil Falls power station for eight years and has been watching the fast spreading Yellow Toadflax sprout up throughout the slopes leading up to and surrounding Bridal Veil and Ingram Falls. "When I learned that it was actually an invasive species I became concerned about the effect it would have if it migrated into Bridal Veil Basin," Jacobson said.
Jacobson is the creator of the Bridal Veil Living Classroom, a biodiversity monitoring operation that uses the natural environment to teach about our surroundings. This past summer Telluride High School students spent over 70 hours collecting data in Bridal Veil Basin. "Bridal Veil and these other high basins are extra special places. It would be a shame to see an invasive plant take root up there, where it would soon be competing against all the natural plants and wildflowers," Jacobson said.
According to three-year San Miguel County Weed Board member Milton Spor, Yellow Toadflax is, "an especially aggressive and adaptive plant that leaves little chance for other species to thrive in the same area." The San Miguel Weed Board was created 10 years ago in an effort to mitigate and check the spread of noxious weeds. The board works with the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Bureau of Land Management and United States Forest Service to monitor, remove and replace invasive species mainly along public roadways, which are a major player in the spread of undesirable plants.
Yellow Toadflax is a native of Eurasia that was brought to North America during the nineteenth century as an ornamental plant. It escaped containment and spread across the landscape unchecked for several decades, and is now known as an "accidental ornamental."
Jacobson and her family have been uprooting as much Yellow Toadflax as they can, but seeing a major infestation of the weed along the road near Ingram Creek alerted her to the necessity of getting help. "A couple of weeks ago Alessandra called me and said that the butter and eggs situation is serious," said Greenbucks's Scott. "We called it an emergency, which, besides tickets to the Black Crowes, helped get a good turnout to this effort today."
"It's a good time to get after these," Spor said. "With as much rain as we've had, many of the seeds germinated so we're getting a lot it out of here." Timing was also good to attack the Yellow Toadflax because the flowers are just starting to seed and now many of those seeds will never make it to fertile ground.
"It may seem futile when you get into a patch like this one [in Ingram Creek], but with persistence you can knock 'em back," Spor concluded. But, as they say, the weed will likely win in the end. Yellow Toadflax is thriving in many area drainages and basins, and may prove more persistent and resilient than mankind's resources to stop its spread.