Grother, who was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Colorado Weed Management Association on Nov. 19, has spent years striving to eradicate weeds and inform landowners in San Miguel County.
“I do everything from working with private landowners to working with public agencies, to weed control on County properties,” Grother said. “In my job, I focus on trying to wrap all of our County weed control into a nice, neat, tidy package – where everybody does pretty much the same stuff.”
San Miguel County Commissioner Joan May had high praise for Grother’s achievements.
“She is the hardest working weed lady I have ever met,” May said. “She is so dedicated and so into it; we really, really appreciate her efforts.”
The county has been fortunate to have an individual with such dedication, said County Commissioner Art Goodtimes, who nominated Grother for the CWMA award.
“Her commitment to integrated weed management has made San Miguel County one of the leaders in the State in terms of building up a department,” Goodtimes said. “It is recognized, not only locally but all over Colorado, that Sheila has done a great job.”
Grother has been responsible for researching weed control products, and for coordinating efforts with government agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Colorado Department of Highways (CDOT), Colorado Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the Department of Energy.
“My goal is to make sure every landowner, public and private, is on the same page as much as possible,” Grother said. “All landowners should be trying to control the same species, with a broad understanding of both new, uncommon species and more common old ones, which should be eradicated and which controlled.”
Weeds are broken into three categories by the state – the A, B and C list species. A list species are rare in Colorado and are mandatory for control everywhere. B list plants are more common but are not necessarily statewide, and can still be eradicated in some places. C list species are common statewide – control is possible but large scale eradication is not. (San Miguel County follows the state’s A list but also mandates eradication on some B list plants that are locally rare and therefore locally eradicable.)
Grother said she has enjoyed her work, which has presented challenges and opportunities to learn. “I have been given a lot of opportunities to learn and to work with people” in San Miguel County, and a lot of support from the commissioners and staff,” she said. “Over the years, we have been able to successfully eradicate certain species of weeds that have shown up in small populations.
“That’s fairly huge,” she said.
Herbicide is not the only tool that can help to combat invasive weeds, she added.
“Education is one of the biggest things,” Grother said. “Landowners don’t always know they have a responsibility to control weeds or, for that matter, what a weed is. We have also done hand removal, insect releases and competitive plantings when it makes sense.
“Letting invasive plants become the dominant plants in your area is not a good environmental statement,” she said.
Grother received her CWMA Lifetime Achievement award for “Years of dedication, leadership and service to the field of weed management.” Receiving an award from that organization is truly an honor, she said.