RIDGWAY – “For the last couple of years town council has gone over and over the weed issue,” said Ridgway Town Clerk Pam Kraft this week, “and nothing got resolved. Hopefully with this process we can get a plan that council can look at and adopt.”
Kraft is co-committee lead, with Sheelagh Williams, of a newly formed committee dedicated to the creation of an Integrated Weed Management Plan, in what has been a controversial and difficult couple of years in Ridgway’s invasive weed problem.
Concerned about the unintended consequences of spraying with poisonous herbicides, the town has tried, according to former town councilmember Paul Hebert “the vinegar applications and the hand pulling. But we’re just falling father and farther behind” in the war on weeds.
The new committee will hold weekly meetings (Tuesdays 4-6 p.m. in the Ridgway Town Hall) from now until March 31, when they hope to have a final plan.
“What we’d really like is for people to participate in the process,” said Kraft. “We’ve just started. Last week was our first public meeting where we mapped out the problem, to see where they are and identify everything.”
Ridgway has infestations of thistle, spotted knapweed, leafy spurge and absinth wormwood at numerous locations: along the river corridor, on town property at Lake Otonawanda and the water treatment plant, in Rollins Park and at the Athletic Park. “And,” said Kraft, “we have a lot of weeds on private property, where the seeds blow onto public property.”
The next meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 4, will “develop land management goals and weed management objectives,” according to a release by Town Manager Jen Coates. This meeting will feature a speaker from the Tri-River Extension Office in Grand Junction, Susan Rose. Rose is the chief educator for the master gardener program, according to Ron Mabry, Ouray County’s Weed Manager, who is a technical advisor to the committee. “She is a horticulturist,” Mabry said. “She’s agreed to come do a ‘Weeds 101’ for us – why we’re even concerned with weeds. She won’t really get into control methods.”
The meeting on Feb. 1 will get into “management techniques, best practices, environmental conditions methods of control, etc.”
For January, Kraft said, “we want to look at the colonies, what types of weeds are there, how big the colonies are, prioritize target areas. “Eventually,” she said, “we want to get into public education and outreach, to get private property owners to clean up their own properties.”
The committee has speakers planned for the next three meetings. Presentations will be approximately 30-60 minutes long. And afterward, the public is invited to participate in a facilitated workshop. Former mayor and county commissioner Don Batchelder will be present at each meeting to facilitate. All weed management resources, meeting notes, and plan related information will be available throughout the process at the town’s website: www.town.ridgway.co.us.
Committee members are: Sheelagh Williams, Dickson Pratt, Jean MacDonald, Heather Bussey, Ellen Hunter, John Clark, Joanne Fagan, Pam Kraft, and Jen Coates.