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Man Works To Eradicate Pesky Weed In Ocean Beach

Aired 3/13/12 on KPBS News.

An aggressive weed has been plaguing Ocean Beach and Mission Bay bicyclists for years. One man has made it his mission for almost a decade to get rid of it.

An aggressive weed has been plaguing Ocean Beach and Mission Bay bicyclists for years, and one man has made it his mission for almost a decade to get rid of it.

Evening Edition

"There's actually one right there, I'll be darn," said Greg Gieselman. At 73 years old, Gieselman, known as the "Goatshead killer," could be on a fishing boat enjoying his retirement.

Instead, this Park & Recreation volunteer has been trying to eradicate this pesky weed called Goatshead from Robb Field in Ocean Beach -- a popular biking and running trail near dog beach.

"I come by here every month and check it, right here is a very small one,and that's all it takes to start the goat head going again," Gieselman said.

Goatshead, or Emex Spinosa, is a noxious weed and its banned in most states including California. San Diego is the only county in the state infested with the sharp spiny plant.

The first one Gieselman came across nine years ago was 7 feet across.

"They'll go into a tire and give a bicycle a flat, and it also use to be a problem at dog beach.

"I believe it's the dogs that have a lot of hair between their toes. It'll get in there and the dog can't speak English, but he starts limping," Gieselman said.

And that's actually how he discovered the problem when he stepped on a goatshead after kayaking nearby. Gieselman uses a back hoe to uproot the plant, primarily spread by service vehicles driving off-road and across beds of it.

Now this retired aircraft mechanic who rides his bike several miles a day in the area has all but eradicated the goatshead from Robb Park. But Gieselman says he won't go to Fiesta Island where it's now starting to spread.

"My preference is to call it Fester Island because of how much of this plant is there, it's inundated with it.

He said in a few more years it will likely be too late to do much about Goatshead on Fiesta Island.

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