by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO- At its meeting on Feb. 8, the Huerfano County Weed Board heard a presentation about matching grants available for containing and eradicating six noxious weed species. Michael Rigirozzi, High Plains Weed Specialist with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, explained that the six species are targeted because they are relatively new to Colorado and have not gained a strong foothold yet. “We want to treat the smaller satellite infestations first,” he explained. “Then we can treat larger infestations from the perimeter toward the center.” Although the High Plains are defined as lands east of I-25, the Department of Ag will make an exception for Huerfano County because of the expanding infestation of leafy spurge. In grassland states like Montana, leafy spurge has taken over hundreds of thousands of acres of rangeland and rendered them useless for ranching – the cost of treating the weeds far exceeds the value of the land.
In addition to leafy spurge, the other five targeted weed species are: diffuse knapweed, spotted knapweed, Russian knapweed, dalmation toadflax, and tamarisk. (Tamarisk will only be treated under this grant program in the Republican River watershed.)
Several organizations were represented at the Weed Board meeting, and those present were in agreement that the group of partners should pursue two separate grants. The first would be to address the leafy spurge problem in Huerfano County. The second grant would fund mapping of dalmation toadflax and a small test treatment area. In the fall of 2007, the County Commissioners began a “three-treatment” program for leafy spurge. The High Plains weed grant would tie into these existing efforts, expand the acres of leafy spurge that could be treated, and provide cost-share dollars to landowners. Previous mapping efforts estimated that 300 acres are infested with leafy spurge.
Some of the partners expected to participate are: CSU Cooperative Extension, Huerfano County Commissioners, Huerfano County Weed Board, Upper Huerfano Conservation District, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Rural Property Owners Association Alliance, and Natural Resources Conservation Service.
According to Rigirozzi, successful grant applications will be chosen by April 15, and the first year’s projects must be completed by April 2009.
For landowners who are unsure of which weeds are on their property, the Department of Agriculture has photographs (noxious weed images) and fact sheets under the Noxious Weed Management Program section of their web site: www.colorado.gov/ag/csd. If you believe you have leafy spurge or dalmation toadflax on your property, contact the CSU Cooperative Extension office at (719) 738-2170.