by Teresa Nees
At times it can be difficult to explain how my job contributes to the overall health of our community. After all, I kill things for a living.
As the Coordinator of the Mesa County Noxious Weed Program, I spend a good share of time wielding various tools and herbicides to reduce populations of non-native, invasive weeds throughout Mesa County. But beyond leaving death and destruction in my wake, the larger goal of noxious weed management and the program is to maintain, reclaim and create healthy landscapes in Mesa County and the region as a whole.
Clifton Nature Park, a Mesa County open space at 32 ¼ Rd and D Rd, is an example of how managing invasive weeds breathes new life both figuratively and literally back to an area. Since tamarisk and Russian olive removal occurred in 2008, the park now lures citizens with a connection to the riverfront trail, easy access to popular fishing ponds, a sandy beach, and wildlife spectacles including deer, rabbits, a blue heron rookery, and nearby osprey and barn owl nests.
I have never visited the park without seeing families out for a walk or bike ride together, and folks enjoying the views of the mountains and the hypnotizing ripples of the river. Unfortunately, I have also observed litter and damage to wonderful native trees as a result of people misunderstanding that this place is meant to be treasured, cared for, and shared by all for years to come. Oh yeah, and the weeds are growing back…those pesky rascals.
To ensure that this space can continue to be enjoyed by the community and inhabited by creatures of all sorts we invite you to join us in efforts to keep Clifton Nature Park clean and safe. Mesa County and the Tamarisk Coalition are coordinating community volunteer events to remove trash, keep the weeds at bay and prevent re-growth of invasive species that would damage the habitat the park provides.
In April, Alpine Bank and other community members joined us for our first volunteer event, and it was a great success! We removed two trailer loads full of tumbleweeds, trash, and tamarisk cuttings making a noticeable difference in the cleanliness and aesthetics of the park! Target is our corporate partner for the work day on Friday, May 19, from 9-noon, and we encourage anyone interested in attending to contact us for more information at (970) 255-7121.If your group or business would like to partner with us to help sponsor a volunteer work day, give a presentation about the wildlife, or promote our efforts, we would love to speak with you. I look forward to meeting more of the great people in the valley by working and playing alongside you at Clifton Nature Park for years to come.