In May, the town of Mancos received a letter from Montezuma County urging us to better manage the noxious weeds that have proliferated over the last few years on town-owned parks, and to encourage property owners within town limits to do the same.
The town of Mancos, like other governmental entities in Colorado, must comply with the Colorado Noxious Weed Act, which requires the removal and management of certain undesirable plants which “constitute a present threat to the continued economic and environment value of the lands of the state, and if present in any area of the state, must be managed.”
This list of undesirable plants includes weeds that are currently growing in abundance at Boyle Park, such as houndstongue, thistle, black medic, broadleaf plantain and bindweed.
For the past three years, at the request of its citizens, Mancos has severely limited its use of chemical fertilizers and herbicides at Boyle Park in favor of organic methods. The town regularly aerates, overseeds and mows the turf to 3.5 inches. Fertilizers and herbicides approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute are also used, and the town has attempted to hire seasonal employees to help manually remove weeds.
Volunteers have periodically made an effort to pull weeds in the park as well. Many of these efforts have significantly increased expenses to the town, and yet the weeds have come back in abundance this year.
The Mancos Town Board recognizes the important role the town must play in reclaiming weed-infested areas and removing noxious weeds and non-native plant species to help protect ecosystem integrity and the surrounding area’s native plant diversity. Additionally, the town is committed to maintaining healthy turf grass in Boyle Park because that is the best defense against weeds. Thus, at the May 9 board meeting, upon learning about the weed infestation and the results of staff research, the town board decided to have Boyle Park treated with a traditional herbicide on June 5.
The town notified citizens by posting signs at the park, sending out an email message to its email list subscribers and posting information on its website. Although experts recommend staying off the treated areas for four hours, the town closed the park for the day to ensure its safe use. The board opted not to treat one section of the park, which is the area south of the playground and west of the pavilion and sidewalk for those who want to enjoy an area of the park that has only been treated organically. This area will still be maintained using the organic methods previously described and the town is soliciting volunteers to help to pull noxious weeds from this section.
Noxious weeds are a threat to natural resources and can be materially damaging to the land of neighboring property owners. As mentioned in the Colorado Noxious Weed Act, croplands, rangeland and habitat for wildlife and native plant communities are being destroyed by noxious weeds each year.
The town of Mancos must do its part to mitigate this threat and be a responsible land steward. The town remains committed to moving to alternative, chemical-free options for maintenance of Boyle Park as described in its 2015 Integrated Pest Management Plan, which can be found at our website, www.mancoscolorado.com, and will continue to keep the citizens informed of its progress throughout the year.
Heather Alvarez is the town administrator, town clerk and treasurer of the town of Mancos. Reach her via www.mancoscolorado.com.