by Kathy Whitlow, Office ManagerImage: A volunteer Weed Warrior spotted these Musk thistle plants along the Truckee River and reported the infestation. Credit: Anonymous.

Since I started protecting the watershed as a volunteer and now as TRWC staff, I notice things I never have before. All the time – out hiking, while biking along the Legacy Trail with my family, even driving home from work.

I notice plants wherever I go now and wonder what they are. Was that Musk Thistle along the Truckee River? Is that is Hoary Cress or Perennial Pepperweed along the Legacy Trail? Are those huge stalks I see on my drive home Common Mullein? I notice a colorful field of wildflowers, or is it actually a non-native, invasive plant that is threatening the health of our watershed and native ecosystems?

Throughout the year, those involved in our Weed Warriors program identify, report, prevent and treat the most damaging of the non-native, invasive weeds in our watershed.

Some of these weeds are not established here yet. Like Yellow Starthistle. Because the infestations are small and new, it can be stamped out easily. Identifying and reporting them is important.

On the other hand, Musk Thistle is here in force. This six-foot high plant bristles with spines and you can see it infesting acres along the Truckee River and on Boca Hill. This season alone, we’ve helped remove over 100,000 invasive Musk Thistle plants near Boca Dam!

As the saying goes, I know just enough to be dangerous. I don’t always get it right, but I’m paying attention. I’m reporting what I see. And, I’m learning. So can you.

Join the Weed Warriors for an educational Weed Walk this Saturday, August 1st at 10 am. There’s no better way to learn about weeds that are threatening our local environment.

Thank you to the donors of the Truckee River Watershed Council, The Martis Fund, Cal-IPC, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife for supporting Weed Warriors.