Weeds and fire can come hand in hand

By Ethan Proud
PREVIEW Columnist
Noxious weeds are not only a biological wildfire, but often the two come hand in hand. Wildfires are fought by first containing the fire, which is similar to the method behind fighting noxious weeds. The problem with weeds, though, is that they can be so widespread it is hard to figure out a starting point.
After a fire, the ground is barren and primed with nutrients for pioneer species to colonize the soil and make way for biological succession. Native plants like fireweed often are accompanied with noxious invaders such as Canada thistle and musk thistle.
Under normal circumstances, “weedy” species colonize the soil and break up nutrients in the soil, making them available for other species. Eventually, these colonizers are replaced by grasses, forbs, shrubs and, ultimately, trees. Noxious weeds are not selected by grazing mammals, insect herbivores and lack pathogens, thus creating a monoculture that drives out desirable species. This locks the plant community in a seral stage and halts biological succession. After a fire, it is necessary to treat noxious weeds to allow the forest to return to a healthy state.
Some noxious weeds such as cheatgrass and salt cedar increase the risk of fire and promote fires at more frequent intervals. Many native species rely on fires to germinate seeds and return nutrients bound in plant tissues to the soil. However, cheatgrass stands shorten the interval between fires and native plants cannot mature to a stage where they can bounce back from a fire and the cheatgrass then dominates that plant community.
Archuleta County Weed and Pest is your local resource for managing noxious weed populations and controlling other pests.
Upcoming events
Fermentation classes: Aug. 28 (vegetables), Sept. 4 (bread) and Sept. 11 (dairy). All classes are from 1 to 3 p.m. The cost is $25 per class or $60 for all three. The cost includes materials, instructor and a jar of food to go home in each class. Space is limited, sign up today, 264-5931.
Resilient Archuleta: Sept. 4, 6 p.m. at the Extension office. Watershed Enhancement Partnership efforts.
CPR and first aid classes
CPR and first aid certification classes are offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931.
We will also attempt to schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations. Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. The type of first aid information provided will vary by the needs of the audience.
Archuleta County Weed and Pest is your local resource for managing noxious weed populations and controlling other pests.

This story was posted on August 27, 2019.