All Cathi Boze asks for is one weed a day.
Boze, the agriculture commissioner for Mariposa County, knows how destructive invasive weeds can be, and she works hard to get rid of them.
In Mariposa County, one of the thorniest weed problems is yellow star thistle. The grayish-green plant with yellow flowers and sharp spines originally came from the Mediterranean and is mighty competitive with native plants.
"The worst thing about star thistle is it competes for water, which is our most critical resource," Boze said.
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Mariposa County has money to help fight the weed, which is the No. 1 invasive weed in the state. It was probably accidentally introduced in contaminated alfalfa seed during the 1800s and now occupies more than 12 million acres in California.
Money comes from both state funding and recovery act funding, Boze said.
Along with competing for water, star thistle also burns well, which is bad news in a county where fire is a constant threat. Boze said it also decreases both recreational and real estate value of the land it is found on.
And if horses eat it, it's toxic and can kill them.
Boze said the weed in Mariposa County is found mostly in the foothills, north of Highway 49 and near Coulterville.
Merced County also hosts yellow star thistle, and like Mariposa County, county officials have admitted they are able to only control and manage the nasty weed. "You continually get reinvestation," Boze said.
To get rid of star thistle, both counties use herbicides, and Boze encourages people to get rid of any of the weed on their property.
"Use a weed-whacker, whatever you can," Boze said. "If everyone pulled one weed a day, we'd get rid of them pretty quickly."
Star thistle isn't the only noxious invasive weed Merced County fights. Don Mayeda, deputy agriculture commissioner for Merced County, said one of the worst weeds in the county is the water hyacinth, which grows in both the Merced and the San Joaquin rivers.
The hyacinth was probably brought in by the aquarium trade, Mayeda said.
"People have fish they don't want, and maybe they dump them in the river instead of flushing them down the toilet," Mayeda said. "It actually has a really nice-looking purple-blue flower."
The main problem with hyacinth is it impedes salmon when they are spawning. "Black bass find it a good place to hide and they eat the salmon," Mayeda said. "Black bass will eat anything they can get their mouth around."
The hyacinth can totally clog a river, and can be so thick it can actually stop a boat. "You'll find it in the Merced River from Snelling on down," Mayeda said.
Like star thistle, Mayeda said the county tries to control the weed because officials know they can't get totally rid of it. It is sprayed with herbicide, but it's extremely hard to control.
"Unfortunately, we'll never really wipe these weeds out," Mayeda said.
But they'll keep trying -- even one weed a day.
Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.