Montezuma County is stepping up enforcement to control noxious weeds on private property when they get out of control and impact neighbors.
A problematic property on Road 21 is the first case the county is going after because an expanding field of hoary cress and Russian knapweed has been ignored for eight years and is hurting a neighboring farmer.
County noxious weed manager Bonnie Loving said she has sent compliance letters and visited the property to persuade the owner to control the weeds as required by the Colorado Weed Management Act and county policies.
“It’s devastating a neighbors property, so it’s time we step up,” she said.
A farmer adjacent to the weed-infested property in the McElmo Canyon area told the county commissioners that wind-blown seeds threaten his hay field operation.
“I’ve put in a lot of labor and costs to control weeds blowing onto my fields from another property,” said Mark Peters.
The problem is so severe that county officials said it is prepared to use its ultimate authority and control the weeds if the property owner does not by fall.
“The next step is to form a weed management plan approved by the commissioners for that property, then get a warrant to access the property to treat the weeds in late fall,” Loving said. “Maybe that will give the owners time to step up and handle the problem.”
In addition to the warrant to access the private land, a lien may be placed against the property until the contract costs of noxious weed treatment is paid, she said.
Loving said there are multiple county properties that are at the severe noxious weed-infestation level, and efforts are underway to persuade the owners to take responsibility for the problem.
“Effectively controlling noxious weeds is not a onetime event, but an ongoing project with your land,” she stated in a compliance letter.
Protecting agricultural interests from noxious weed infestation has become a priority for the county the past couple of years. Officials said they are willing to control serious weed problems on private property if necessary.
“This action is the proof of the pudding of what we are going to do about weeds in this county,” said commissioner Keenan Ertel. “It’s time to start making this program work.”
For information about weed management and programs, contact the county noxious weed department at 970-565-0580, or visit the Montezuma County website.