Weed calendar opens window to Garfield County agriculture, vegetation management efforts | PostIndependent.com

Weed calendar opens window to Garfield County agriculture, vegetation management efforts

“Fall Gathering” is a painting by artist Lanny Grant that’s featured in the 2022 Weeds of Garfield County calendar.
Garfield County Vegetation Management/Courtesy

Though “weed” has taken on a different meaning in Colorado over the past decade or so, most rural counties have whole departments dedicated to educating landowners about the noxious varieties and how to control them.

If you want to get to know your Colorado weeds a bit better — complete with a gorgeous scenic photo of the month from the Garfield County countryside — just pick up a copy of the annual Weeds of Garfield County calendar.

The 2022 version is now available for free at all Garfield County Public Library District branches and the county administration buildings in Glenwood Springs and Rifle.

Steve Anthony has been Garfield County’s vegetation manager since 1999. For several years, he worked with the nonprofit Colorado Big Country Resource Conservation and Development Council to produce a statewide weed calendar.

That project was eventually turned over to the Colorado Weed Management Association, but after a few years of not doing it, Anthony said he missed it.

So about eight years ago he got permission from the county commissioners to produce Garfield County’s very own weed calendar. His department had a budget set aside for community outreach, education and awareness, and the calendar seemed like a good way to accomplish that.

“It’s a pretty good tool to, in a subtle way, get weeds out there in the vocabulary of people and increase awareness,” he said.

Each month features an image taken by a local photographer or painted by a local artist of scenic landscapes, residents, wildlife and livestock.

Accompanying each photo and monthly calendar is information about various noxious weeds, how to prevent them from spreading, best agricultural practices, wildfire recovery, what’s edible — if that’s your thing — and how to be careful to avoid dangerous look-alikes when out foraging.

For instance, the February entry tells of Queen Anne’s Lace, or wild carrot, which is popular with foragers. Beware its relative, poison hemlock, though.

There’s also a bit of Garfield County agriculture history featured in the calendar, including a January tribute to the Coffman family of Carbondale, who recently sold their ranch to the Aspen Valley Land Trust in order to maintain its ranching heritage.

The Grizzly Creek Fire behind the Spring Valley Schoolhouse by photographer Ann Driggers is featured in the 2022 Weeds of Garfield County calendar.
Garfield County Vegetation Management/Courtesy

Garfield County Vegetation Management Program Coordinator Sarah LaRose is in charge of lining up the artistic content for the calendar each year.

“In the past, we’ve hired photographers to go out and take pictures that we wanted to feature, but two years ago we started doing it as a photo contest and asked people to submit their photos,” LaRose said.

Featured photographers for 2022 are Todd Patrick, Tommy Sands, Chalana Wilson, Shania McCain, Ann Driggers, LaRose and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent’s own Chelsea Self.

The project has also expanded in recent years to include several paintings by local artist Lanny Grant.

“A lot of the photos illustrate the different vectors for weed-seed spreading throughout the county, like hay and cattle operations, and what they do to control weed spread,” LaRose said.

“I absolutely love it,” she said. “It’s probably the most favorite part of my job. It’s great education for landowners, because many people don’t realize how noxious weeds affect their lives and how they might be spreading weeds without even realizing it.”

A Garfield County hay operation by photographer Sarah LaRose is featured in the 2022 Weeds of Garfield County calendar.
Garfield County Vegetation Management/Courtesy

Anthony said Garfield County is constantly seeing new, non-native plants coming into the region and discovering ones that have been here for awhile but are just now propagating.

Colorado has a noxious weed list including about 100 plants with varying degrees of concern for spread. Garfield County has about 40 of them present, he said.

The Colorado Weed Management Association continues to produce an annual weed calendar, but not many other counties have their own, so Garfield County is unique in that sense, Anthony said.

“A lot of counties have gone more to social media for their education and outreach, and others do a brochure,” he said. “Every county’s approach is a little different.”

Garfield County this year printed 2,000 weed calendars — double that produced during the pandemic last year — and they’re going fast, Anthony said.

For more information, contact the Garfield County Vegetation Management Department at 970-945-1377, ext. 4305 or 4315.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.