Melinda McWilliams: Noxious weeds are a real problem |

Melinda McWilliams: Noxious weeds are a real problem

To The Editor:

I think Mr. Thad Thompson (letter to the editor, July 27) is uninformed about noxious weeds.

The Colorado Noxious Weed Act (enacted 1990, amended 1996) empowers local governments to manage noxious weeds on public and private lands to protect state resources. The Commissioner of Agriculture is required to designate, update, and manage in consultation with the state noxious weed advisory board (which includes weed management professionals and scientists), a state list of noxious weeds categorized as A, B and C.

As required the Commissioner has developed state weed management plans with mandatory prescribed management techniques for A and B list weeds. These integrative management techniques include cultural, mechanical, biological and chemical controls that are science-based and peer-reviewed. This information is available on the Colorado Department of Agriculture website.

The Act instructs and gives legal authority to each county and municipality to prepare and implement a noxious weed management plan including weed management on public rights of way.

The Grand County Weed Management Plan (adopted 1997, revised 2007) incorporates the state noxious weed list and the state’s recommended integrative management techniques. The county program is administered by the Grand County Division of Natural Resources in accordance with state law.

So there are no “pesticide gun-slingers, poison profiteers or daisy-zapping zombies” as Mr. Thompson contends. Sometimes in cases of extensive populations of noxious weeds, herbicides are the only practical and economical means of control. If private landowners were more knowledgeable and responsible about controlling noxious weeds on their own lands, as required by state law, there would be less need for herbicides.

Mr. Thompson makes light of the “daisies” or scentless chamomile which is invading Grand County. This noxious weed, listed by the state, is a prolific seed producer – 300 seeds per each flower head and 300,000 per single plant. Seeds can be viable in the ground for 15 years. It takes hold in disturbed or bare soil found on road shoulders, construction sites, driveways and vacant lots, and the seeds spread quickly to adjacent areas by wind, water, birds, animals, people and vehicles.

Hand-pulling can be effective for small isolated populations if done before the flowers go to seed. However, in many areas of the county this weed is out-of-control so I understand and support spot herbicide spraying. I do not want to see Grand County blanketed in this weed.

I am a certified master gardener trained and experienced in integrative pest management plus I am hand-pulling this chamomile in a 9-acre dedicated open space in my neighborhood. This year I had to concede to spraying some areas where I am losing the battle.

Melinda McWilliams


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