Letter: Aspen’s second-most notorious weed
As the monsoonal moisture surges back into the state, plants are getting ready to seed before our all-too-short summer wraps up its third and final act. If you hike, bike, run or walk any of our backyard trails, you’ve no doubt seen Aspen’s second-most notorious weed growing in abundance. This one doesn’t help generate tax revenue or make your ride up the gondola a little more interesting. This is the one that chokes out native vegetation and quickly colonizes areas, infesting them with sharp, nasty, unsightly thistles. Most commonly, you can see musk thistle growing abundantly in the Hunter Creek Valley, Moore Open Space (right by the Aspen Recreation Center) and along the Rio Grande Trail. This plant is most often introduced by us. You’ve no doubt seen this unpleasant fact if you’ve ridden the Hummingbird Traverse or the Airline Trail anytime in the past month. I’m saddened to see these thistles colonizing new areas and trails, spreading more each year. If you are out hiking any of these trails, bring along some leather gloves to pull out a couple of these buggers, knowing that you are enlisting in part of the resistance that wants to keep our native vegetation intact, ensuring that our fragile mountain ecosystem maintains a healthy balance. A couple of local pro tips: 1) Pluck the purple-flowering seed heads off the plant. 2) Pack them out in a free doggie bag like you would your pooch’s waste. It’s a collective effort, and if every outdoor user put in a couple of minutes of work each time they went recreating in our incredible backyard, we would be eradicating these plant pests in no time! Spread the word, join the weed resistance, and make a difference in your backyard before this becomes the No. 1 weed in Aspen.
I would like some more taxpayer dollars from the city and county to go toward fighting the largest and nastiest infestations. I have rarely seen any paid staffing going toward mitigating this problem.
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