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New plan to fight weeds gets review

Aspen Times Staff Report

Pitkin County will soon have a new 51-page plan at its disposal to fight noxious weeks.

County commissioners on Tuesday reviewed a draft of the new weed management plan, prepared by the county’s Weed Advisory Board.

Mandated by Colorado state law, the plan contains sections on education, identification, prevention, eradication, land rehabilitation and other aspects of weed control. The board, which first met in January 1998, and county staff have worked on the plan for about a year.

The plan also contains an assessment of the weed problem on Pitkin County lands, other public lands in the county and in towns within the county. Commissioners praised the board for their hard work and the comprehensiveness of the plan.

Work on the plan was guided by former Pitkin County Land Manager Steve Anthony, who resigned recently and is now employed by Garfield County in weed management. Anthony, who joined the Weed Advisory Board in presenting the plan, later said it’s important to note that the plan calls for using multiple approaches to weed management, a type of program known as “integrated” weed management.

Integrated weed management, Anthony said, involves not only eradication of noxious weeds by spraying and cutting, but also cultural methods (introducing competing plants), biological (introducing insects that destroy the weeds), and mechanical controls such as digging.

Pitkin County presently spends roughly $125,000 on these methods, Anthony said. He said the additional cost for some sort of an enforcement officer has to be considered with implementation of the plan.

Jodi Smith, office manager at Pitkin County’s Public Works department, has been working with the weed management board as a county staffer from the start. Smith said the plan will probably be adopted by the county no sooner than late April or early May.

Smith said failure of property owners to comply with the weed management plan, after it becomes law, will at first be treated as before.

“I don’t anticipate anything will change at the beginning,” Smith said. Presently, Public Works sends letters to violators to make them aware of their problem. “We’d rather do it through education and notification than enforcement,” she said.

The Colorado Noxious Weed Act, which requires the implementation of a weed plan, allows a $1,000 fine for noncompliance.

Anthony said control of noxious weeds is a job that’s never done. “A successful program is one that reduced the rate of spread,” he said. Figures from the federal government indicate uncontrolled weeds increase by 15 percent per year, on average.


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