By Ethan Proud | PREVIEW Columnist
Weed warrior might pique your interest, but before we go any further, let’s preface what we are talking about. Noxious weeds are invasive, non-native plants that have been introduced through human behavior far beyond their natural ranges.
These plants can be injurious to wildlife by reducing available forage and altering migration routes, detrimental to livestock by crowding out desirable forage or through their toxicity, and harmful to human health by containing caustic saps or being toxic enough to kill within minutes.
In Archuleta County, the Weed and Pest Department manages these species on both public and private land with help from partnering agencies and individuals. Since 2017, the department has taken on a strong stance for public education and has installed bootbrush stations, written a slew of articles and put on several major events. But, there still seems to be a gap, from the transplant just moving to Colorado from an urban environment to the longtime local who just purchased land infested with thistles. As the educational outreach has increased, so has department demand. There simply aren’t enough service providers in the county, nor enough staff to handle every private property.
While updating the Archuleta County Integrated Pest Management Plan, the Local Weed Advisory Board stressed the importance of homeowner associations (HOAs) and community-based outreach. This is where the weed warriors come into play.
The Weed and Pest Department is striving to do site-specific weed tours with a small number of participants to identify local weeds and management techniques. The participants of these HOA or community weed tours would then be armed with information to share with their neighbors and community leadership. The goal is not to report neighbors that have weeds to an authority, but rather create a network of information which can arm residents with the tools and know-how to manage their own property for noxious weed species. Weed warriors would understand plant biology, control methods, resources for herbicide use, herbicide alternatives and management goals.
During the 2022 field season, the Weed and Pest Department hopes to identify interested individuals, conduct a site-specific weed tour with each interested party or individual, get community feedback and synthesize a program to be administered in 2023.
The Weed Warrior program will not grant any participants the right to enter private properties or to conduct weed mitigation on properties that they themselves do not own. The focus of this program will be to extend the educational network of the department to amplify management efforts across the county.
If you think that you are a weed warrior or that your HOA would benefit from one, please reach out to the Weed and Pest Department at (970) 264-6773 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Archuleta County 4-H needs volunteers. We are looking for short-term commitment for superintendents at the county fair. Please contact our office at (970) 264-5931 or contact 4-H Coordinator Becky Jacobson at email@example.com.