Letter: Kill weeds with me, Mr. Semple
Kill weeds with me, Mr. Semple
I would like to invite Lorenzo Semple to join me for a day of weed eradication. This could involve carrying a heavy backpack full of spray (no 2-4D however), a shovel (I’m not tough enough to swing a pickaxe all day), a bag and sturdy gloves for plucking prickly thistle blossoms as once the flowers show color, the seed remains viable despite spray or a pickaxe. It’s hot, sweat steams down your face, there are steep hillsides to climb and rough ground to maneuver, but the scenery is stunning if you remember to look up. It takes a surprising amount of focus to see the weeds.
I am eager to learn any techniques Mr. Semple could show me as eradicating weeds is all about beating the clock; getting rid of them before they disperse more seed. Efficiency is critical.
In turn, I’d like to show Mr. Semple places I have worked the past few years. Places that had nothing but a collection of noxious weeds (particularly aggressive weeds that out-compete native plants). These areas where polycultures of hound’s tongue, plumeless thistle, Musk thistle, oxeye daisy, Field scabiosa and absinthe wormwood (a plant in the same genus as Sagebrush that Mr. Semple may be unaware of) in some combination depending on the exact area.
Today these areas host a multitude of native plants that have regained a foothold, dramatically increasing the biodiversity of the area. Openings that were once overtaken by noxious weeds, at this moment hold lupine, penstemon, fireweed, fairy trumpets, harebells, cinquefoil, gentian, aster, sunflower, northern bedstraw, pyrola and countless more species. Yes, it required herbicide in most cases (carefully spot sprayed for the most part). But life is rarely black and white. Some individuals think that the herbicide is the lesser of two evils when compared to losing biological diversity in many areas.
If we don’t want to lose the amazing and beautiful native plants on our forests, we need to tackle noxious weeds in a strategic manner through good land management and a lot of sweat and effort. The entire community should join in; carry gloves and a trowel when you head out the door. Remove and carefully bag seed heads before removing a plant. Notice how the weeds progress; almost always along highways and waterways. Hound CDOT to eradicate noxious weeds before they spread from the highways.
I live on the Crystal River and get Absinthe Wormwood and Oxeye Daisy washed onto my fields annually. Many individuals think Oxeye is pretty and leave it in place. It takes over a newly seeded field resulting in a huge negative impact on my ability to raise alfalfa. Start a campaign at the headwaters and work downstream. But don’t just call people psychos. Growing hay and raising cattle is my livelihood. I can’t stand idly by and let the weeds take over. Anyone upstream who refuses to take responsibility for weed eradication drastically affects the amount of herbicide their neighbors use downstream. With enough effort, herbicide would not be necessary and native plants could thrive. Maybe Mr. Semple can use his column to rally people, getting them out digging and sweating to deal with this problem.
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