Thanks to the Montezuma County Chapter of Great Old Broads for Wilderness, there are fewer noxious weeds on Maverick Trail in the Boggy Draw area above Dolores.
For the past two years, the group has pulled Canadian thistle, musk thistle and common mullein in cooperation with Montezuma County and the San Juan National Forest.
“We have been out here so many times pulling weeds, it’s satisfying to see the progress of our work,” said Susan Treneer of the nonprofit Great Old Broads.
Weeds were severed and left to dry in the sun or bagged and hauled off. Training was provided by Bonnie Loving, director of Montezuma County’s noxious weed program.
Another approach inoculates Canadian thistle with the rust fungus. The fungus is harvested from another location, then dried and sprayed on thistle patches.
“The fungus is species specific to Canadian thistle. It seeps into the leaves and kills the roots,” said Loving.
Because this year’s wet spring follows a dry summer, noxious weed seed beds could flourish, said Corey Ertl, rangeland specialist with the San Juan National Forest.
High-use areas such as the Boggy Draw trail network are more susceptible to weed infestations, he said. “These partnership volunteer groups are important because we don’t have a large staff or budget.”
Ertl said the burn scar from the 2018 Burro Fire in the Bear Creek drainage area will be treated this summer to stop noxious weed development.
Great Old Broads adopted the Maverick Trail as a project for noxious weed control.
“You did a good job cutting them off in this area,” Loving said. “The community needs to step up like you did to help control noxious weeds on public lands we all use.”
Follow-up also is important. Musk thistle seeds remain viable in the ground for up to 14 years. Common mullein is a biennial forb native to Europe and Asia, and each plant can produce 100,000 to 250,000 seeds.