A summer spent spraying
SUMMIT COUNTY – You might not have noticed cruising along the highways and byways of Summit County this summer, but the number of invasive, noxious weeds so common to our area has been knocked down a notch.”We’ve gotten a lot of work done,” said Lisa Taylor, who heads the Summit County Weed Program, a local group charged by the Board of County Commissioners to control invasive species of noxious weeds from inhabiting native areas around Summit County. When even small weed infestations are left unchecked, they can spread like biological wildfire, plaguing lands that may never recover from the arrival of an invasive species.The weed control season is coming to a close as summer starts to wane – weed control is concentrated from May through September – and Taylor’s group is finishing up a season spent spraying from one end of the county to the other.According to Taylor, her group completed two “treatments” on all of the county’s major roads. Some of the more traveled corridors that got the full treatment this season were along Highway 9 from the Grand County line to the town of Silverthorne, along Highway 6 from the town of Dillon to the top of Loveland Pass, on the roadside between the towns of Frisco and Breckenridge and on the south end of the county from Breckenridge to the top of Hoosier Pass.”The (area north of Silverthorne) has probably shown more improvement over the past 12 months or so than any stretch of land that I can think of in Summit County,” said Summit County Commissioner Tom Long. “Lisa and her crew have really risen to the occasion, and we’ve gotten some weeds killed this summer.”
Taylor’s group ramped up spraying and weed mitigation across the county because of an increase to the budget for more trucks and equipment, and to hire more employees.With a larger budget this year as compared to last, the weed group saw a rise in revenues as well, contracting for weed control services from entities such as the Open Space and Trails Department, the Snake River Water Treatment Plant, the towns of Breckenridge and Frisco, and a surprise $18,000 contract for two treatments from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).One of the group’s goals is to coordinate efforts by each of the towns across the county, a difficult task as each town dedicates different levels of resources to control noxious weeds.”We would really like to have a whole countywide weed effort, rather than each entity doing their own program, which can be hit and miss,” explained assistant county manager Thad Noll. “If we could have one dedicated effort to do weed control, that would be ideal.”This season, the town of Frisco showed a real commitment to weed control, contracting for two treatments at a cost of about $25,000.
“We were really happy with the partnership because we made a big dent in the weed population in Frisco,” Taylor said. “Just with the two applications, we’ve seen a big decrease in the weeds, especially along roadsides.”Aside from spraying, the program maintained close links with homeowners and community associations across the county. Taylor calls the community education effort “bar none, the key to success.” She regularly gives presentations to the uninformed about what species are most invasive, and what are the best ways to control the spread of even the nastiest of noxious weeds.She also tells community members about the county’s cost sharing program, which helps defray costs up to $500 for people doing noxious weed control on their own.Where were the goats?
Summit County folks who were around last summer probably remember one of the Weed Program’s more visible efforts from last year – a herd of goats specially introduced to areas around the county to eat away at habitat most favored by noxious weeds, specifically the Canadian Thistle.Weed program coordinator Taylor said that because of increased demand for the goats across the state, prices for their snacking services were way up this year. That increase in cost kept them from a return engagement around town this summer.Taylor says that she has no plans to dedicate a portion of next year’s budget for the goats to return, but she still maintains hope that a separate grant for the goats’ services might come about by next year.Duffy Hayes can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 250, or at email@example.com
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