At a weed tour tonight, residents may think they're getting a close-up look at some of the area's most beautiful flowers.
In reality, they'll be learning about plants that have negative impacts on the county.
Diana Eilers, Routt County's Cooperative Extension Office's 4-H assistant, went on the tour last year.
"Some of these ... I was thinking they were pretty flowers," Eilers said, describing some of the plants she saw last year. "They're noxious because they spread and they deplete other opportunities for real vegetation to grow, so there's no redeeming value for them."
Matt Custer, the county's weed supervisor, will be leading the bus tour. He was in the field Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.
The county has eight main noxious weeds: whitetop, four species of knapweed, two species of toadflaxes and leafy spurge, Eilers said.
During the tour, Custer will point out these plants and give information about their life cycles, how common they are, what their negative impacts are and how the county is working to contain them.
Eilers said weeds cause a range of problems: They destroy wildlife habitat, they invade private and public land, they deplete the area's water supply and they cost money to combat.
By learning to recognize which plants are weeds, people will be more successful in controlling them, Eilers said.
"If you know what the weeds are, then you can help your neighbors, and everybody works together," she said. "It's kind of a group effort."
During the tour, Custer also will point out other plants of interest such as hemlock, a patch of which is growing between Sixth and Seventh streets, Eilers said.
Last year's tour was a big success, Eilers said, in part because of Custer's easy-to-understand and humorous narration.
After last year's tour ended, Eilers said she had the feeling that participating residents were going to get to work on their weeds.
"When I got off the bus last year, people were really amazed that what they thought were beautiful plants were actually weeds," Eilers said. "A lot of people were really going to see what they could do in their own neighborhoods, to see if they could tackle their own problems."
Typically, the tour fills an entire city bus. The tour begins at 5:10 p.m. today and will end no later than 6:45 p.m. Anyone who is interested should meet in the courthouse parking lot in Steamboat Springs. The tour is free. One prize, as well as "weed warrior" pins, will be given out to participants.
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