As a result of a state mandate to eliminate “List A” noxious weed species from all public and private property in Colorado communities, the City of Boulder is proposing an update to its existing weed ordinance to require property owners to remove the weeds from all properties.

myrtle spurge


“List A” weed species, as provided in the Colorado Noxious Weed Act, are plants that have yet to be well established in Colorado but are either present in small populations or are invasive in nearby states. There are two species of “List A” weeds that are of most concern within Boulder’s city limits: myrtle spurge and Japanese knotweed.  The city was awarded a grant through the Colorado Department of Agriculture Noxious Weed Management Fund to assist in an educational plan.



“Early detection and eradication of these particular species can prevent them from becoming a major problem in Colorado,” said city Integrated Pest Management Coordinator Rella Abernathy. “Most of these plants are ‘escaped’ ornamental plants and many residents may not realize that they present a threat to the natural lands surrounding Boulder and are illegal to grow here.”


These noxious, invasive plants can negatively impact biodiversity, threaten endangered species, degrade native habitat, displace wildlife, increase soil erosion, damage streams and other wetlands and increase the risk and frequency of wildfires if allowed to spread.  Boulder is in compliance with the Colorado Noxious Weed Act on city-owned properties but has not been enforcing the statue on private property.


The city will focus on education and outreach to notify the public of the requirements and to provide information for identification, environmentally-sound weed removal and suggested replacement plant options.


“A soft enforcement approach is being implemented with voluntary compliance being the goal and enforcement action being a last resort,” said Code Enforcement Supervisor Jennifer Riley.  “However, ticketing is possible if property owners do not comply with repeated requests from officers to address illegal weeds.”


Education will begin with a “Purge Your Spurge” event on May 18 where residents are encouraged to pull their myrtle spurge and exchange it for free native plants.  This event will occur as part of Boulder Community Day at the East Boulder Community Center, 5660 Sioux Drive, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Other education efforts will include a webpage; fact sheets; media engagement; outreach to nurseries, landscapers and lawn care companies; and code enforcement officers who assist with education in the field.


“Identifying and removing noxious weeds from private property can take some effort, but it’s important to prevent these weeds from spreading to our neighbors’ yards and ultimately to natural areas,” said Abernathy.  “Fortunately, only two of the weeds from the list are widespread within the Boulder city limits, myrtle spurge being the most common.  We want to make sure people can easily identify the weeds, know how to remove them safely and know what native plants can be used to replace them.”


Myrtle spurge has been commonly used as a decorative plant. People should be aware that it contains a white sap that can cause skin irritation including blistering if touched.  Those removing it should wear long sleeves, long pants, gloves and eye protection.  Removing at least four inches of the root is recommended to prevent its return.  It should be placed in a plastic bag and tightly fastened.  DON’T compost noxious weeds as that will cause the weed to spread.


The city’s weed ordinance is expected to be modified through a City Manager rule change, which will be published in the Daily Camera on May 3, as well as on the city’s website.  Public feedback will be accepted until May 20.   The rule is anticipated to go into effect on June 1, 2013.


For more information or to provide feedback on the proposed City Manager’s rule, contact Rella Abernathy at 303-441-1901.



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