City to help property owners eliminate noxious weeds

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The Moffat County Cooperative Extension Office has always been available to help landowners deal with noxious weeds, but that hasn't stopped the spread of what officials call "a serious threat." Now, property owners within the city are battling the same problem that has threatened ranchers and farmers in the county.

"[Noxious weeds] are a problem countywide in town and out," Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent Ann Franklin said.

Noxious weeds outcompete native and introduced plants, can increase soil erosion and reduce the value of forage and habitat for wildlife and livestock. Weed infestations have reduced property values in other states by up to 80 percent.

"They're a pretty big concern," Franklin said. "There are some that are on a pretty big increase."

Extension Office officials said noxious weeds are affecting county landowners and Craig Code Enforcement Specialist Rex Splitt said the weeds are showing up in town more and more. He said some property owners even cultivate them in flower beds.

To help residents take control of noxious weeds, the City of Craig has secured an $8,000 grant to fund weed control chemical costs.

According to Splitt, who applied for the grant, private property owners are eligible to be reimbursed for 50 percent of chemical costs up to $500.

The city also purchased two chemical spraying backpacks they will lend to property owners.

The Extension Office has identified seven "most wanted" noxious weeds. They are dalmatian toadflax, whitetop, houndstongue, leafy spurge, Russian knapweed, Scotch thistle and Canada thistle. According to Franklin, leafy spurge is on the decline in Moffat County, but Russian knapweed is increasing.

The Extension Office provides education for controlling noxious weeds and contracts with private landowners to remove them.

There are several biocontrol methods of killing these weeds including introducing bugs or livestock that eat them, but some are a threat to livestock.

"A lot of times we'll use goats, but you almost have to train the animals to eat the weeds," Franklin said.

To learn about noxious weed control or identification, call the Extension Office at 824-9180. To take advantage of the city grant program, call Splitt at 824-8151, Ext. 204.

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