Commissioners work to prevent Leafy Spurge from becoming a county scourge |

Commissioners work to prevent Leafy Spurge from becoming a county scourge

Patrick Kelly
Moffat County Commissioners John Kinkaid, Frank Moe and Chuck Grobe discuss Leafy Spurge, an invasive weed, with Yampa Valley River System Legacy Partnership member Ben Beall and Moffat County Pest Management Manager Gary Brannan.
Patrick Kelly

At Tuesday morning’s Moffat County Commission meeting the invasive weed Leafy Spurge crept into and overtook the conversation.

According to a report from Colorado State University professor K.G. Beck, a weed science specialist, Leafy Spurge is a hardy non-native perennial weed that encroaches on grazable pasture, reducing the amount of cattle the land can sustain by up to 75 percent.

Ben Beall, representing Yampa Valley River System Legacy Partnership, was joined by representatives from Dinosaur National Monument, Bureau of Land Management and Routt County Weed Program in a discussion with the commissioners on how to manage the spread of the pervasive plant.

Gary Brannan, Moffat County Pest Management manager, said the weed has a foothold in Routt and Moffat counties but in places like Montana millions of acres have lost agricultural and recreational value after being taken over by the plant.

“It’s phenomenal if you don’t get ahold of it,” he said.

The growth of Leafy Spurge along the Yampa River has been combated since 1995, said Beall, but the problem has only become worse as seeds spread downstream.

Tamara Naumann, a botanist with Dinosaur National Monument, said when she first started working at Dinosaur 20 years ago the plant was limited to two tributaries and could be managed by volunteers. Over the last 10 years, she has seen it spread with more than a hundred patches popping up.

“(It’s) a problem we’re spending more and more time and resources on and our volunteers don’t like it,” she said.

Commissioner Chuck Grobe agreed the issue needed to be addressed and offered the county’s assistance.

“Moffat County will support this program because it is an invasive weed and it’s a nasty weed,” he said.

As the discussion continued, participants bounced ideas on how to address the situation. Suggestions included forming a committee to seek funding from grants and contacting universities to conduct studies on how to combat the weed, which is spread across state, federal and private land in Colorado.

“It hasn’t been dealt with adequately and we don’t want it to get out of hand,” Beall said.

Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.

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