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Tumbling Tumbleweeds

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I know Bob Nolan and the boys long ago taught you that tumbleweeds were a charming part of the West:

But in fact, tumbleweeds, actually Russian thistle, is a nasty invasive species that when combined with the kind of drought presently afflicting the West, become a major fire hazard. Also, When Tumbleweeds Attack does not sound like a pleasant nightmare to experience personally.

The weed can grow up to 3 feet (0.9 meter) high in summer, and when the plants dry out in winter, winds detach them from their roots and send them rolling across the landscape, spreading seeds as they go.

Rolling clusters of the tumbleweed have created havoc in the drought-stricken areas of the West.

In late January, an invasion of tumbleweeds rolled into Clovis, New Mexico, trapping Wilford Ransom, 80, and his wife, Mary, in their home.

“I looked out the window to see why it got so dark all of a sudden, and they were over 12-feet high, blocking my front and back doors,” the retiree said. “We couldn’t get out.”

A neighbor eventually tunneled through the tangled mess to the Ransoms’ garage, allowing the couple to escape.

Just one of the many under-reported stories out of the American West.

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