What is a Noxious Weed?
A ‘weed” is any plant growing where you don’t want it to. A “noxious weed” is a legal and regulatory definition for a non-native, invasive, ecologically damaging plant that did not exist in the United States prior to human settlement. Colorado’s native grasses and wildflowers evolved over millions of years to fill unique ecological niches and have insects and diseases keep them in balance. The invasive noxious weeds that this plan targets were originally imported to the United States for their ornamental beauty, aggressive growth habits, xeriscape potential, or re-seeding capabilities. However, the very aggressive growth traits which made these plants desirable for a garden or landscape have enabled them to thrive outside cultivated areas and become fierce competitors with our native vegetation. Lacking environmental controls and natural predators, they have escaped cultivation and become aggressive invaders of wildlands, open space, housing subdivisions, municipal areas, private property and roadsides.
Why Should You Care?
Some people believe that nature will “heal itself” and that as new plants come in, a new, more “resilient” ecosystem will be born. While it is true that weeds can cause a plant community shift, it is usually into a far less biodiverse one. The idea that the plant will heal itself is not more than wishful thinking. Humans created the problem. Therefore it is our duty to try to mitigate some of our effects. It’s call stewardship. Being a good steward is realizing that there is harm being done, and thereby working to prevent further harm. If noxious weeds were simply pioneer species “doing their job” to fill in disturbed areas, there wouldn’t be a problem with them displacing wildlife and dominating an area that once held a mix of native species. Residents of Blue River have expressed interest in preserving the health of the natural ecosystem. It is desired to preserve and repair the ecosystem.