CSU horticulturalist to set up shop in Pitkin County | AspenTimes.com

CSU horticulturalist to set up shop in Pitkin County

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times

Pitkin County is one of three counties in Colorado without the services of the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension program. That’s about to change.

County commissioners agreed Tuesday to fund a part-time horticultural specialist through the CSU Extension program, bringing the agent to the county one day a week to assist both county government and private landowners.

CSU is looking to fill a vacant horticultural post in Eagle County, and that county is willing to share the position with Pitkin County.

“We weren’t sure what the needs would be,” said Jon Peacock, Pitkin County manager, explaining the rationale for starting with a part-time position locally.

Overhead costs to bring the agent to Pitkin County would amount to about $8,600 per year, or about $17,300 for a two-year pilot program, he said. CSU pays the salary for the position.

The county at one time had its own land manager but eliminated that position. The CSU horticulturalist could provide help to the county and private landowners, advising owners of small-acreage properties on various land-management practices. Battling noxious weeds would be a key focus, Peacock said.

Local food production is another area where CSU agents are focusing their efforts in some counties, according to C.J. Mucklow, western region director of the CSU Cooperative Extension.

With the county’s Open Space and Trails program acquiring and managing agricultural properties, the agent could provide assistance there, as well, Peacock said.

“That is not a particular expertise we have in house on the agricultural side,” he said.

The county and its residents will dictate the agent’s focus, according to Mucklow.

“What you want out of your agent is what you want, not what CSU thinks you ought to have,” he said.

In Summit County, for example, the agent’s focus is forest management and wildland-fire management, Mucklow said.

Commissioners were unanimous in giving an informal nod to the funding. Tracking public and county use of the agent’s services will be necessary to justify continued funding, Commissioner Rachel Richards said.

jurquhart@aspentimes.com


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