>Although the proposed ordinance calls for fines, the real goal is to educate farmers and ranchers and make eradication have economic benefit before enforcement is applied
Apparently, some are taking the county’s proposed ordinance aimed at controlling noxious weeds as a threat. That, it has been pointed out, is not the goal. As reported, the noxious weed control ordinance is actually a three-step plan for the treatment of noxious weeds in the county. The plan, according to Kev Alexanian, the county’s noxious weed abatement specialist has three goals. The first is to educate farmers and ranchers about the weed problems, second to offer some economic benefit so they’ll be willing to help with the eradication effort, and lastly but only as a last resort, enforcement. “The weeds are of economic importance,” Alexanian said. “But we’re not going out just to write tickets.” Another feature of the ordinance that wasn’t made clear earlier is the importance of there being two classes of weeds. The lists, both included in the ordinance, are not equal. Alexanian explained that weeds on both lists are economical importance but those listed as Class A weeds are “new invaders and small populations and are easier controlled. Those listed as Class B have been here since before any of us and will be here after we’re gone.” The hope is to be able to control and get rid of the Class A weeds at a lower cost to the public. Although the ordinances enforcement section calls for a fine of up to $500 to a land owner who fails to destroy these weeds or the seeds. Before a citation is issued, though, the education and economic benefits of the ordinance come into play. The county expects to spend about $755,000 over the next three years to fund the education and economic parts of the ordinance. The plan is to have the funds used to pay for herbicide, while the landowner pays for its application. Alexanian has been working on weed control in the county for a number of years. This ordinance, he wanted to make clear, is a “gentler, kinder approach” to weed control. The county court agreed, changing the wording of the ordinance from “the weed master ShALL prosecute such violation...” to “the weed master, after consultation with the county court, MAY issue citations ...” Commissioner Mike McCabe is a farmer and knows first hand the economic damage noxious weeds can bring. “This problem is not as glamorous as the city needing new sewer and water, but this problem can have as big an economic impact on the community.” A final hearing on the proposed ordinance has been set for Feb. 28.