2006 Noxious Weed Control
by Bill Wenstrom

More than forty resident and non-resident owners participated in organized weed control last year on the common area.  Collectively, we worked the roadsides as well as off-road in the Gallinas Conservancy and Morley Townsite.  An unknown number of others worked individually on their own property.

Our program at SFTR will continue in 2006.  In the past, our effort included a Weed Walk to educate newcomers on the species of interest, an Adopt-A-Road Program for roadside weed eradication, a group effort ("Weed Out") when we usually focus on Gallinas and Morley, and facilitating control by each owner on his/her personal property by loaning POA-owned sprayers, providing protective clothing, and selling herbicide to owners at the POA's cost.

Last year we eliminated the Weed Walk.  Previous sessions were poorly attended.  But, most of the regulars can readily recognize a thistle after years of experience.  We'll rethink the need for a Weed Walk if any new participants in the program request one.  Please let me know.

We hope all who have participated in the past will again participate this year because we continue to take weed control seriously.  We initiated a do-it-ourselves weed control program five years ago to save thousands of dollars in dues money formerly paid to hired pest controllers that we can now spend on other valuable projects.

The Weed Control Subcommittee thanks all for their past help and invites everyone to again participate this year.  We also hope to gain new volunteers from those that might visit the ranch occasionally or that might have recently relocated here.

Adopt-A-Road Program

Thanks to all who volunteered over the last five years for roadside weed control via the "Adopt-A-Road" program.  Those volunteering last year will soon receive an email from me on this subject.  Because of a great response, we had almost 100% coverage of ranch roadsides each year.  As a result, I believe roadside weeds are much less abundant now that when I first moved here.

As many of you already know, this program is similar to the "adoption" program popular throughout the country (and at SFTR as well) whereby volunteers agree to collect roadside trash.  SFTR owners patrol specific road segments at their own pace throughout the season according to their own schedule and eradicate the weeds found there.

Weed control is commonly defined as reducing weed populations in an area to a level where one can enjoy use of one's land.  While there are four weed control methods (cultural, biological, mechanical, and chemical), the latter two are the practical methods now available to us.

Mechanical control involves digging, mowing, tilling, or otherwise physically removing individual plants in their early stages of development before they produce seed.  Chemical control involves spraying them with herbicide.  We use both methods.  However, 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.  Therefore, it's good to get them as early as possible before seeds develop.

At SFTR, weeds normally begin growing earlier on the north end of the ranch than on the south end.  You may remember that we initiated weed control much earlier in 2004 than in previous years.  That's because thistles and other noxious weeds started developing aggressively earlier in the spring than usual.

This year, we believe we're back to what's turned out to be a more-or-less normal weed development schedule.  Although the lack of rain is significant, temps have been a little warmer than normal.  Accordingly, thistles and others are now starting to sprout in fairly small numbers.  Please begin to watch roadsides, especially for thistle rosettes, as you drive or walk the ranch.  Please notify me if you see any springing to life.

We hope those who previously adopted segments will retain them this year.  Please check the Adopt-a-Road list and map posted elsewhere on the website.  Should I not hear from you in response to this posting or my forthcoming email, I'll assume that you're willing to continue your participation in 2006.

If you've not adopted one or more road segments in your area of the ranch and now have the time to do so, please also let me know.  We're always on the lookout for new volunteers to lessen the burden on others.  Incidentally, the average adopter now patrols about 4 miles of ranch road.  If you're below that level and would like to do more (a little or a lot), please also contact me.

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 call or email when you've finished your work.
  3. I have the electrically operated POA sprayers (six 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) in my shed.  The POA also owns three 3-gallon, hand-carried units.  First come, first served on checking them out so call ahead to check on availability.  I also have herbicide and protective clothing (see below).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.  Please also carefully examine the ground for rosettes at or near the base of dead plants that we missed last season.

Sixth Annual SFTR Weed Out

The 2006 Weed Out will begin at 9:00am on Saturday, May 27.  Please meet at the Bulletin Board.  This is Memorial Day Weekend.  We understand that it's a popular weekend for a variety of family and other activities.  Many who might otherwise volunteer have or will make other plans.  But it's also a three-day weekend for some non-residents who make seasonal visits to their property.  We invite you to join us for at least a day while here.

This is another excellent opportunity to save substantial POA dues by participating in an activity we would otherwise pay a contractor to perform.  Perhaps we'll meet new neighbors.  We'll all enjoy a spring day or two outdoors.

Unfortunately, for the last two years, the Burlington Northern Railroad failed to properly control thistles on their right-of-way adjacent to the eastern border of the ranch.  As a result, a significant infestation of thistles there is starting to cross the fence and spread onto the ranch.  I've called both BNSF and the county about this problem.  But the county gets the same run-around that I do when contacting BNSF.

Depending on weather and the number of volunteers who actually show-up, we intend to focus this year first on the frontage road right-of-way.  The area between Fisher's Peak Parkway and the railroad fence needs some serious attention.  Second, we'll return to Gallinas Canyon where previous effort has reduced the thistle population to a manageable level.

Under absentee ownership (and for sale), Morley continues to be a problem as a reservoir of weeds that spread to adjacent properties.  If we have the time and energy, we'll get to it as the third priority this season.

We need volunteers who own sprayers (with or without ATVs) or who are willing to use the POA's hand-carried sprayers 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 also get excellent results with this product.  At about $40 per gallon, however, it's expensive so we try to minimize waste by not broadcast spraying.  Rather, we spray weed concentrations as we encounter 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.

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 during the Weed Out to "partner" with an ATV owner.  If you loan us your ATV, we'll return it clean with a full tank of gas.

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

Individual Property Owner Effort

Colorado law (as difficult as it seems to be to enforce) requires all owners to control weeds on private property (or railroad and road ROWs).  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 and by providing protective clothing free of charge.

Supplies and Equipment

As mentioned above, we provide protective clothing free to all participants.  Specifically included are goggles for eye protection, respirators (masks), gloves, coveralls, and boot covers .  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, sunscreen.

I have coveralls and other protective equipment for all who have ordered them in the past.  However, I may need to reorder some items.  If you are a new participant or haven't used this gear in the past, 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

We sell Curtail Herbicide to property owners for personal use at $10.00 per quart.  A quart makes 10 gallons of spray when mixed with water.

Please call (846-7457) or email (bwenstrom@bacavalley.com) to confirm your participation, provide comments on anything we might do more effectively or efficiently, or ask questions.  I'll also come by to pick-up any equipment you're willing to loan and deliver any supplies or equipment you need from the committee.