Weed affiliation grows

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This spring, weeds aren't the only things growing fast.

A partnership to combat invasive weeds in Moffat County also is growing.

Three government agencies, 14 energy companies and ranchers are coming together to develop a partnership to fight weeds in Northwest Colorado.

The effort is focusing on reducing weeds in Hiawatha and Powder Wash, where weeds are a documented problem, and preventing weeds in Great Divide and Sand Wash, where many fear weeds could become a problem, said Dave Blackstun of the Bureau of Land Management Little Snake Field Office.

Everyone is contributing what they can, Blackstun said.

"Our hope is to address the weed problem in a cooperative manner on a landscape basis," Blackstun said.

The BLM has asked each participating oil and gas company to donate $2,000 for each area in which it is active. Blackstun stressed the amount is a donation, not a bill, and companies are providing it in addition to the weed control efforts that the government already requires of them.

Oil and gas companies and landowners will provide updates about where weeds are becoming a problem.

The State Land Board is contributing to the partnership.

Partnership members will tour the four areas May 11. Blackstun expects to begin weed mitigation measures soon after that.

The Moffat County Weed and Pest Department has volunteered to do much of the work.

A number of factors are causing the weed problem to grow, Blackstun said.

"Anytime vegetation is stressed, you create a weed problem," he said.

Invasive weeds grow well in disturbed soil, and oil and gas activity as well as off-highway vehicle recreation have disturbed soil and created bare ground.

Exploding wildlife populations further stress vegetation.

Years of drought also have hurt native vegetation and created a window of opportunity for invasive weeds.

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