Noxious weed removal in Garden of the Gods

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tall weed in grassy field with red rocks in the background

Mullein are tall, stocky plants that carry up to 250,000 seeds per plant and can remain viable in the soil for more than 80 years.

A project begins Monday, Aug. 31 to remove noxious weeds from 17.5 acres in both Garden of the Gods Park and the adjacent Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site. The work, which includes spot treatment of the weeds and distribution of a native seed mix, is an important conservation effort for the overall health of the region’s most visited park.

The most aggressive and targeted noxious weed treatment in the park to date, it will help restore the natural resources in and around the park and support the city’s long-term noxious weed prevention plan. Among the weeds to be removed are myrtle spurge; Canada, musk and scotch thistle; Dalmatian and yellow toadflax; diffuse knapweed; hoary cress; and mullein.



small yellow flowers

Yellow toadflax is a perennial with an extensive, creeping root system that is very competitive due to its early spring emergence.

“Many times noxious weeds may not look out of place, but they actually choke out nutrients from native plants and if not addressed, can have long-term impacts on an ecosystem,” said Dave Absher, park ranger. “Toadflax is a great example of a plant that’s quite beautiful in its own right, but its quick spread can quickly overtake a native environment.”


prickly weed

Canada thistle has an aggressive root system. Tilling and hand-pulling actually stimulate growth.

According to the Colorado Noxious Weed Act, a noxious weed is defined as a nonnative plant that aggressively invades or is detrimental to native plant communities; carries insects, diseases or parasites; or is directly or indirectly detrimental to the natural ecosystem. El Paso County’s Environmental Division has compiled a helpful guide for land and property owners to learn more about noxious weeds and control methods.

The project is staffed by the Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) thanks in part to a $27,000 grant awarded by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) to the Colorado Youth Corps Association. The grant is specific to accredited youth corps that employ youth and young adults on critical outdoor recreation and land conservation projects in partnership with local governments and open space agencies statewide. Colorado Springs is contributing an additional $7,000 toward the project as well as training and cultural awareness resources to MHYC.

GOCO receives a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to preserve, protect and enhance the state's wildlife, parks, rivers, trails and open spaces. This project is one example of the many ways the Colorado Springs community benefits from GOCO support.

Herbicide application flags are visible in the treatment area and additional application information is available at


two people in the distance bending over to pull weeds in a large meadow.

Staff from Mile High Youth Corps removing noxious weeds in a central Garden meadow.








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