2003 Noxious Weed Control
by Bill Wenstrom

"In the spring a livelier iris changes on the burnished dove; in the spring a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love."  --Alfred Tennyson

Humm, guess I'm younger than I thought!  Intermittent waves of spring-like weather (seemingly interrupted by return of winter) now have my thoughts turned to weeds: the incipient thickets of thistle that I love to hate.  My love-struck heart knows that they're simply biding time before arising unbidden and definitely unwanted.  By the gazillion, they'll soon spring from hidden dens in the soil to solartrop in our under-groomed but overly-fertilized (well, not really;  lack of cows, you know) xeroscape.  I "fancy" total eradication of the hateful hoard.

Did this pique your interest, if not your weeds?  Did I petal my petty, pernicious prose sufficiently well to stimulate flow of your spring sap, not to mention herbicide?  Are you motivated to persecute, per the Las Animas County Integrated Weed Management Plan, all to extinction?

Excellent, because the POA takes weed control seriously.  We initiated a do-it-ourselves weed control program two years ago to save thousands of dollars in dues money we can now spend on other valuable projects.

Forty-one resident and non-resident owners participated in organized weed control last year.  Others worked individually on their own property.  Collectively, we worked the roadsides as well as off-road in the Gallinas Conservancy and Morley Townsite.  Charles Baldwin's office cooperated in the effort by assigning Rich Babnick the task of weed control on the "J"-lots.  This program will continue in 2003 and includes a Weed Walk, an Adopt-A-Road Program, a group weed eradication effort ("2003 Weed Out"), and encouraging further control by each owner on his/her personal property.

The Weed Control Subcommittee of the SFTR POA Common Area Committee ("Weed Control Central") hereby invites everyone to participate in all four components and hope that you will do so.

Weed Walk

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 again lead an information session.  Using her herbarium-quality mounted specimens as well as newly sprouted examples, she will explain the difference between "noxious" weeds and more benign varieties.

To participate in the class, meet on Gallinas Parkway at the intersection with Engleman Circle at 1:00pm on the afternoon of Saturday, May 17.

Adopt-A-Road Program

Thanx from "Weed Control Central" to all who volunteered over the last two years for roadside weed control via the "Adopt-A-Road" program.  Because of a great response, we had 100% coverage of ranch roadsides last spring and almost 100% coverage last fall.  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 agree to collect roadside trash.  SFTR owners 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 physically removed and burned or sacked for disposal in a landfill 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.  In a month or so, please begin to watch roadsides, especially for thistle rosettes, as you drive the ranch.  Please notify me if you see any springing to life.

We hope those who adopted segments last year will retain them this year.  Please check the Adopt-a-Road list posted elsewhere on the website.  Should I not hear from you, I'll assume that you're willing to continue your participation.

Although we had a great response from owners last year, situations change and persons assume new and different responsibilities.  As a result, some road segments may require readoption for 2003.  They are or might include:  1, 22, 24, 25, 26, 32, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38, 41, 45, 46, 47, 69, 84, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, and 128.  Please see the Adopt-a-road map posted elsewhere on the website to identify each segment or e-mail or call me for a copy of the list or map.

Please let me know if anyone would be willing to adopt any or all of these segments this spring.  Thanx again to all who have already committed to readopt the segments covered last year.

Some simple guidelines:

  1. Adopt-a-Road is a totally volunteer effort.  If you find that you're too busy to continue, please contact me.  We'll find a replacement.
  2. You do this work at your own pace and on your own schedule.  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).  First come, first served so call ahead to check on availability.  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 average about 1-2 gallons of spray per mile of roadside where thistles occur as scattered, individual plants or in small clusters.
  5. This 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.  As done in the past, 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 rosettes with a small pile of rocks at the edge of the road.  Marking is a big help when returning later to the spot for treatment.
  8. Please also carefully examine the ground for rosettes at or near the base of dead plants.  Come to the Weed Walk to learn about this and other interesting weed information.

Third Annual SFTR Weed Out

The 2003 Weed Out is now scheduled to begin at 9:00am on Saturday, May 24.  This is Memorial Day Weekend.  Meet at the Bulletin Board.  This is another 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 or two outdoors.

Depending on weather and the number of volunteers who actually show-up, we'll focus first on the Gallinas Conservancy, and then the Morley Townsite.  Hopefully, we'll again secure financial participation from Morley's owners.

We also did this work during Memorial Day Weekend in 2001 and 2002.  2001 was probably a little early.  Last year many thistles were not readily observable because they had not developed upright stalks.  Additionally, drought  retarded weed growth somewhat throughout the season as it did native plants.  We'll probably have a somewhat earlier, wetter spring this year.  So Memorial Day Weekend will probably be ideal for the effort.

We need volunteers who own sprayers (with or without 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."  It is neither dangerous nor persistent if properly applied. We got excellent results with this product in the last two years.  At about $45 per gallon, however, it's expensive so we try to minimize waste by not broadcast spraying.  Rather, weed concentrations are sprayed as one encounters them.

We found it very effective when using an ATV to "partner."  One partner drives the ATV crossing a meadow or following a roadside in a relatively straight line where possible and spots weeds.  The other roams alongside with the spray wand and hose.  Occasionally, they switch jobs.

To mix the herbicide solution in the field with a colorant, we'll also need volunteers to provide at least two tanks of water.  Truck mounted water tanks work best because the water needs to gravity feed into the spray units on ATVs or on the ground.  However, trailer-mounted tanks also work where the terrain allows them to be parked up-hill from a convenient spot to fill sprayers.

We can use all the volunteers we can get, especially those who own sprayers of any size and an ATV, who are willing to loan a sprayer or ATV to another volunteer, or who are willing to come along on Memorial Day weekend to "partner" with an ATV owner.

Individual Property Owner Effort

Colorado law requires all owners to control weeds on private property.  One of the archived articles on the website specifically discusses the availability of commercial weed control services to residents and absentee owners.  We 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

As mentioned above, I have POA sprayers and herbicide.  I also have a supply of protective clothing.  Specifically included are goggles for eye protection, respirators (masks), gloves, boot covers, and coveralls.  Everyone should use eye protection.  The other items are less mandatory and probably listed in the order of their desirability.  You should also wear a cap and, hopefully, sun-screen.

These items are free to participants.  However, I probably need to reorder some items.  If you want one or more sets of coveralls, please notify me.  Consult the size chart below.  Sorry no smalls.

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 ATV and/or sprayer should they not be able to personally participate over Memorial Day weekend.  Your ATV will be returned clean with a full tank of gas.  If you have a large Coleman or other cooler to loan for the weekend, we could use it also.

Each day during the Weed-Out in late May we'll provide cold drinking water and soft drinks, and lunch (Subway sandwiches and chips).  We take orders for sandwiches each morning and deliver them to where you're working noonish.

Please call (719-846-7457) or e-mail (bwenstrom@bacavalley.com) to confirm your participation, ask questions, or provide comments on anything we might do more effectively.  If you volunteer to loan equipment, I'll come by to pick-up and later return it.