Noxious Weed Control at SFTR
by Bill Wenstrom

Colorado law requires all property owners to control the growth of noxious weeds on his or her private property.  The Las Animas County Integrated Weed Management Plan defines seven such species: Leafy spurge, Diffuse, Russian and Spotted knapweed, and Musk, Scotch, and Canada thistle.  Fortunately, only the thistles seem common on the ranch.
 
The POA takes weed control seriously.  We initiated a do-it-ourselves weed control program last year to save money we would otherwise pay to commercial pest controllers.  Our work included the common area as well as the Gallinas Conservancy, Charles Baldwin's "J"-lots, and the Morley Townsite.  This program will continue in 2002 and includes a Weed Identification Tour, an Adopt-A-Road Program, a group weed eradication effort (2002 Weed Out), and encouraging individual control on each owner's personal property.
 
We hereby invite you to participate in all four components and hope that you will do so.

Weed ID Tour

There are several excellent articles concerning weeds posted on the SFTR website.  The county Ag Extension Office also has some illustrated booklets.  However, there's no substitute for seeing them alive and prosperous in their native habitat.  Accordingly, Carol Rawle will lead an informative Weed Walk session for anyone unsure of the difference between "noxious" weeds and more benign varieties. 
 
To participate, meet on the road at the intersection of Gallinas Parkway and Engleman Circle at 1:00pm on the afternoon of May 18.      
 
Adopt-A-Road Program
 
Thanx from "Weed Control Central" to all who volunteered for roadside weed control via the "Adopt-A-Road" program.  Because of a great response, we had almost 100% coverage of ranch roadsides last fall.  Roadsides form the majority of the "common area" on SFTR.  We plan to continue the program this spring and fall as well.
 
This program is similar to the "adoption" program popular throughout the country whereby volunteers collect roadside trash.  SFTR owners agree to patrol specific road segments at their own pace and according to their own schedule and eradicate the weeds found there.
 
Weed control can be accomplished mechanically by digging them up or chemically by spraying with herbicide.  Once weed seeds develop, the seed heads (or the entire plant) should be removed and bagged because the seeds could disperse even if the mature plant dies via herbicide or naturally.  Therefore, it's good to get them as early as possible with herbicide before seeds develop.
 
At SFTR, weeds normally begin growing earlier on the north end of the ranch than on the south end.  So far, we've seen little.  Please watch, especially for thistles, as you drive or walk the ranch and notify me if you see them springing to life.
 
Although we had a great response from owners last fall, situations change and persons assume new and different responsibilities.  As a result, some road segments may require re-adoption for spring, 2002.  They are or might include:  15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 32, 33, 34, 35, 44, 69, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 107, 108, 109, and 110.  Please see the Adopt-A-Road map posted on the SFTR website to identify each segment or e-mail (bwenstrom@bacavalley.com) or call me (719-846-7457) for a copy. 
 
To participate, please let me know if you would be willing to adopt any or all of these segments this spring.  Thanx again to all who have already responded to my earlier messages on readopting segments patrolled last fall.
 
Some simple guidelines for the Adopt-A-Road program:
 
  1. This is a totally volunteer effort.  If you find that you're too busy to continue or find other commitments, please contact me.  We'll find a replacement.
  2. You do this work at your own pace and on your own schedule as weeds begin to appear.  However, earlier is better than later.  We'd also appreciate a note when you've finished your work.
  3. I have the electrically operated POA sprayers (three 15-gallon units that may be mounted on an ATV or in the back of a pick-up and two 25-gallon units that are towed behind an ATV) here.  I also have herbicide and protective clothing (see below).
  4. If you want herbicide, please bring a plastic or glass container sufficient to hold 2 cups of herbicide for each 5 gallons of spray you think you'll use.  I averaged about 1.5 gallons of spray per mile of roadside last fall where thistles occurred as scattered, individual plants or in small clusters of 4-6.
  5. Adopt-A-Road is a roadside effort.  Please eradicate all you can see from the roadway or reasonably get to off-road within the 30 foot easement on either side of the centerline.  But don't get "too far" onto private property.
  6. Please report any serious infestation of private property by Lot Number or street address.  As done last year, we'll send friendly reminders to owners asking that they check it out.
  7. If you're a daily walker, keep your eye on the roadside.  Mark any developing concentrations of thistle with a pile of rocks near the edge of the road.  Marking will be a big help in returning later to the spot for treatment.
  8. For thistles, please also carefully examine the ground for "rosettes" with or without stalks at or near the base of dead plants.  Come to the Weed ID Tour to learn about this and other interesting weed information.
Second Annual SFTR Weed Out
 
The 2002 Weed Out is now scheduled to begin at 9:00am on May 25.  We will also work on May 26 and May 27 as necessary.  This is Memorial Day Weekend.  To participate in this group effort, meet at the entryway.  This is an excellent opportunity to save substantial POA dues by participating in an activity we would otherwise pay a contractor $5,000 to $7,000 or more to perform.  Perhaps we'll meet new neighbors.  We'll all enjoy a spring day outdoors.
 
Depending on weather and the number of  volunteers who actually show-up, we'll focus first on meadows in the Gallinas Conservancy, then the Morley Townsite, and finally Charles Baldwin's "J"-lots along the frontage road.  Coverage of the latter depends on securing financial participation from Mr. Baldwin and the Merrill family who own Morley. 
 
We also did this work during Memorial Day Weekend last year.  More than 30 resident and non-resident property owners participated.  Thanx to all.  We treated approximately 490 acres, including areas never sprayed in the past.  We dispensed more than 700 gallons of herbicide solution.  Despite requiring a substantially greater effort than anticipated, we consider the effort an unqualified success.  Please help-out again this year.
 
Memorial Day last year was probably a little early because many thistles were not readily observable.  They had not yet developed upright stalks.  We have a somewhat earlier spring this year.  Memorial Day Weekend will probably be ideal for this effort.
 
We need volunteers who own sprayers and ATVs to go off-road in the above areas.  The spray we use is a water-based, 2-1/2% solution of a non-restricted herbicide (i.e., one available to the general public) named "Curtail" that is neither dangerous nor persistent if properly applied. We got excellent results with this product last year.  At about $45 per gallon, however, it's expensive.  We try to minimize waste by not broadcast spraying.  Rather, weed concentrations are sprayed as identified.
 
To mix the solution in the field with a colorant, we'll also need volunteers to provide at least two tanks of water to be parked at accessible locations in the work area.  The tanks should have a garden hose connection.  Pick-up mounted water tanks work best because the water needs to gravity feed into the spray units on ATVs or on the ground.  My 300 gallon tank with hose connector is available if someone wants to load same into their pick-up.  However, trailer-mounted tanks also work where the terrain allows them to be parked up-hill from the sprayers.
 
Sprayers will mark weed concentrations so that we can go back later and assess kill rate.  Kill is not guaranteed.  If, for example, it rains soon after an application we might get a bad outcome.  Possible follow-up later may be needed.  Sprayers will also keep records of the amount of herbicide solution applied in each area so that we may apportion cost among the POA, Baldwin, and the Merrills as a percent of the total gallons of spray applied.   
 
We can use all the volunteers we can get, especially those who own sprayers of any size and an ATV or who are willing to loan a sprayer or ATV to another volunteer.  Please forward this message to other friends and neighbors who own land here.  Also, please use the "Reply" button on your browser so we know you're interested, will participate or loan equipment, and to receive the next message from Weed Control Central.  Thanks again. 
 
Individual Property Owner Effort
 
As mentioned, Colorado law requires all owners to control weeds on private property.  One of the articles on the website specifically discusses the availability of commercial weed control services to residents and absentee owners.  We also encourage owners to aggressively attack the problem by loaning POA sprayers to all who want to use them free of charge.
 
By the way, Colorado law also permits weed control on private property by local governments.  The cost is then billed to the owner with a 15% penalty for administrative services and inspection.  So, if you find weeds and D-I-Y or hire a professional, you'll not only soon have a relatively weed-free site, but you may save dollars and legal hassle in the process.   
 
Supplies and Equipment
 
I have the POA sprayers and herbicide at my house.  I also have a supply of protective clothing.  Included are goggles for eye protection, respirators, gloves, boot covers, and chemically resistant coveralls.  Everyone should use eye protection.  The other items are less than mandatory and probably listed in the order of their desirability.
 
These items are free to participants.  However, I need to reorder coveralls.  If you want one or more sets, please notify me.  Consult the size chart below.  Sorry - no small coveralls.  You should also wear a cap and bring sun-screen.
 
Coverall Sizing

Size Height Weight
Medium 5'4"-5'9" 120-170
Large 5''7"-5'11"  150-200
XL 5'9"-6'2"  180-230
2XL 6'0"-6'5"  200-250

As discussed above, we need volunteers with sprayers, ATVs, and water tanks.  You will be reimbursed for the cost of the water.  We also need owners to volunteer the use of their sprayer or ATV should they not be able to personally participate.  Please contact me to schedule pick-up of your units which I will return clean and with a full tank of gas.
 
Each day during the 2002 Weed-Out over Memorial Day Weekend we'll provide cold drinking water and soft drinks, and lunch (Subway sandwiches and chips).  We'll take orders for sandwiches each morning and deliver them to where you're working noonish.  If you have a large Coleman or other cooler, please bring it along for cooling the drinks which will be available at a convenient location or at each water tank.