GarCo Vegetation Management looks to capture weeds
Garfield County Vegetation Management teaches people how to ID noxious weeds
Garfield County Vegetation Management is looking for pictures from residents for its annual “Weeds of Garfield County” calendar that is distributed for free in the county.
This year the county is holding a photo contest for residents — the winner will not only have their photo featured in the 2021 calendar but will also receive $300.
The county has been producing the calendar for five years to educate the residents of Garfield County about noxious weeds and how they can help manage them.
“Our main focus is noxious weed management throughout Garfield County,” Program Coordinator and Garfield County Vegetation Management Sarah LaRose said.
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“We try to do a lot of different types of education and outreach, and encourage landowners to be more active in noxious weed management on their properties as well as identification and understanding what noxious weeds are versus your common garden weeds.”
Garfield County Vegetation Management covers 900 miles of roads in the county, hiring two seasonal workers every year to spray for noxious weeds in the right of way.
Anthony said some of the top noxious weeds in the county include Russian knapweed, whitetop, tamarisk, Russian olive, and Scotch thistle.
“The Russian Knapweed seems to be pretty impactive to landowners and folks that are trying to grow hay or have livestock. It is toxic to horses and can give them a chewing disease if they eat a lot of it over time,” Vegetation Manager for Garfield County Steve Anthony said.
Chewing disease is caused by toxins in the weeds, making horses unable to bite-off and chew their food.
Anthony said Russian knapweed is commonly found on Silt Mesa between New Castle and Rifle, and also south of Silt in the Dry Hollow and Mamm Creek area.
“They form monocultures, which means that’s the only thing that can grow,” Anthony said.
“If you’re trying to grow something beneficial, these weeds compete for soil, nutrients, water and light. They are going to impact what you’re trying to grow; it’s going to crowd that out.”
The county currently has two programs to help residents, the first for tamarisk and Russian olive. LaRose said the other one is for forbs or broadleaf weeds such as knapweed, and thistles that property owners might have.
“Both of these programs are cost-share, so the landowners basically get reimbursed for noxious weed management,” LaRose said.
For removal of tamarisk and Russian olive the county does site visits with the landowners, to verify it is a good project for the county to do, before a crew is contracted to do all the work.
“They do all the cutting, spray the stumps, slash pile management, and the landowners are responsible for paying 25 percent of total project cost, then Garfield County pays the remaining 75 percent,” LaRose said.
The county partners with the conservation districts for the other cost-share program, and landowners have the option of doing the management themselves or contracting it out.
“Once either way is said and done, they have to fill out an application and turn it back in with their receipt. If they do the DIY method they are eligible for up to 75% reimbursement, if they hire a contractor they are eligible for 50% depending on our budget,” LaRose said.
LaRose added that it requires a site visit by someone that is qualified and to vouch for the landowner, making sure they are not requesting more money back than they should be receiving.
The county is getting ready to start its “Purge the Spurge” program, which helps eradicate myrtle, cypress, and leafy spurge, which are common ornamental noxious weeds.
“A lot of people have received them in the past from nurseries, and they don’t realize they are noxious weeds,” LaRose said. “We encourage people to pull those out of their gardens or wherever they find them.”
For every 13-gallon bag residents can receive a voucher for native plants at Mountain Valley Nursery in Glenwood Springs, they in turn receive a voucher for native plants the nursery has.
Anthony said that myrtle spurge can be found all over Garfield County.
“It’s a list A, which means it needs to be eradicated. It is pretty toxic, especially to young kids,” Anthony said.
“It was brought into neighborhoods that were built in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, as a kind of landscape plant, that was promoted because it is a succulent and fire retardant.”
Anthony added that spurge purges are a good way to encourage people to get rid of it on their own, and earn a little reward.
Both Anthony and LaRose agree through the calendar they can help educate residents of what weeds they have on their property and what they can do to best eradicate them.
LaRose said they are already working on next year’s calendar, and residents have until July 16 to enter for the chance to win $300.
“I’d really like to encourage people to include pictures of the river, landscapes, hay fields, tractors, wildlife, because we can really tie a story into any type of picture,” LaRose said.
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