My second week in this fellowship brought just as much learning as the first. Last Monday included my first solo visit to a protected property. Much like the rest of the Pikes Peak Region, the 19-acre, Palmer-owned parcel was covered in native wildflowers including yucca, milkvetch, penstemons, and indian paintbrush. Exploring the property, I also carefully noted new patches of Canada thistle and toadflax so we can return to eradicate the invasive plants before they set seed. Many of these weeds take years of persistent treatment, making our annual property visits invaluable to maintaining the health of the ecosystem. While Palmer only personally tackles the weeds on the two properties it owns, our reports on each property visit help other land owners do the same. If you’re interested in preventing the spread in and around your own yard, explore El Paso County’s noxious weed guide!
After a few other property visits, report writing, and staff meetings, I joined Lee Derr on a visit to Iron and Red Mountains. The trip offered the opportunity to learn from Lee’s years of experience working with Palmer. Over the five-hour hike, we discussed the properties’ histories, ecology, and future improvement projects. Since I’ve worked outside of Colorado each of the last three summers, I was thrilled to see many flower species in bloom for the first time. If you haven’t visited the two parks managed by the City of Manitou Springs, put them on your list of great weekend activities. You can even help the city control toadflax by pulling up the pretty weed as you hike (see this week’s photo!)