by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO- During lunch on Feb. 4, the Huerfano County Farm Bureau and County Commissioners considered the priorities affecting agriculture in Huerfano County. “How can we help you?” Farm Bureau President John Stroh asked the Commissioners. One suggestion that got nods of assent from all thirteen in attendance, was revitalizing the local Ag Coalition. It was agreed that many of the local ag priorities involve more than one organization, so the Coalition could spearhead many efforts. Ag Coalition members in the past have included the Farm Bureau, Huerfano Basin Stockgrowers, Huerfano County Fair Board, Upper Huerfano Conservation District and the Cowbelles.
One of the top needs the group discussed was for more water and places to store that water. The recent Gardner water crisis was cited by Stroh as an example. “This is just the beginning,” he said. In light of past mining activities, there is also the issue of water quality, heightened as the area finds favor in the eyes of coalbed methane extractors.
The Fair Board and Stockgrowers Association have been in discussion about improvements to the grandstands at the fairgrounds, with the Stockgrowers offering $10,000 in seed money. Gaye Davis, who gave a short history of the varied ownership of the fairgrounds and 4-H building, has assisted with grant writing for the benefit of the fairgrounds in the past. She told the group that funders would look more favorably upon requests if the facility were used for a wider variety of events by a more diverse set of users.
There are also potential land use problems when ag meets development, ie. open range, trash and energy easements. Regarding the economy, theft is on the rise, and the rural nature of most of Huerfano County makes its citizens targets.
Finally, another high priority, and one that may be underestimated by the general public, is weed control. According to County Administrator John Galusha, one of the most insidious and costly weed infestations in the County is tamarisk. The tamarisk, also known as saltcedar, consumes enormous amounts of water from the water table – from 300-500 gallons per day per shrub – and toxifies the surrounding land.
The group agreed that regular meetings, including the Ag Coalition, would be helpful in addressing ag priorities into the future.
After the work session concluded, the Farm Bureau held a business meeting and elected new officers: President, John Stroh; Vice-president, Paul Coe; Secretary/Treasurer, Frank Martin.
Again this year, the Farm Bureau will offer a $500 college scholarship to a graduating senior whose family is a Farm Bureau member. Contact Carol Dunn at TheDunes1@gmail.com for a scholarship application or membership information.