Whacking at weed problem | CraigDailyPress.com

Whacking at weed problem

Rob Gebhart

Moffat County and the Bureau of Land Management are partnering to fight weeds, and oil and gas companies are some of the partners’ biggest supporters.

The oil and gas companies have pledged $45,000 as matching funds for a grant the county is seeking from the state Department of Local Affairs.

If the grant application is successful, the money will be used to implement the newly proposed program.

“It’s a good project because there’s a wide variety of people coop-erating,” Commissioner Tom Gray said.

The BLM and Moffat County have identified four areas — Sand Wash, Great Divide, Hiawatha and Powder Wash — where invasive weeds are becoming a problem, Moffat County Natural Resources Director Jeff Comstock said.

The program will treat weeds across the entire landscape of these areas, Comstock said.

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Treatment programs are in place in these areas, but they are prescriptive in nature. For instance, the BLM has regulations that require oil and gas companies to treat their rights-of-way for weeds.

It was the BLM that proposed treating weeds across entire landscapes.

The Moffat County Weed Man-agement Department will coordinate the effort this year, but the commissioners said the project would be perpetual and require more coordination than the county alone could provide.

Treatments, for the most part, will be performed by contractors paid from the grant, is the application is successful.

The county hopes to raise $60,000 in matching funds for the grants. Companies that have pledged money include Ju-l-ander En-ergy, Western Gas Resour-ces, Stanley Energy and Samson Re-sources.

Oil and gas companies aren’t the only users of public lands that contribute to weed problems, Com-stock said. Wildlife, including wild horses and elk herds, and off-highway vehicle users bring weeds into areas.

“These things also contribute to weed problems, but no one is holding them accountable to the same standard as oil and gas companies,” Comstock said.

Moffat County asked oil and gas companies to contribute to the cause because they are organized and have money, Comstock said. Other land users, such as OHV recreation users, aren’t as organized or easily accessible.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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