Mancos’ experiment with organic weed control at Boyle Park will end this spring, despite concerns from some residents.
During a meeting on Wednesday, the town board informally approved a switch to traditional herbicides at the park, where the town has used organic weed control methods for about two years. The change came partly at the request of the Montezuma County Noxious Weed Department, which sent a letter saying the town is out of compliance with state and county standards, but the board has been considering a switch since the fall. Several town residents at the meeting protested the change, but trustees said the organic methods have failed.
The town used organic weed control on its property in 2017 at the request of several residents. Parks Manager Terry Jennings said that since then the weed problem has worsened in Boyle Park and other public spaces, like the Mancos Schools football field. A group of volunteers who pledged to hand-pull the weeds every weekend has dwindled, and Jennings said practices like aerating and overseeding the grass have not been effective.
“We’re not keeping up with the weeds at all,” he said.
In a memo to the board, he said a 100 percent organic lawn care program, which would include six fertilizer and soil treatments per year and require all weeds to be hand-pulled, would cost about $14,000. A combination of organic and traditional weed control would cost $8,000, and the non-organic “weed and feed” method the town used prior to 2017 would cost $2,200. The town’s weed management budget for 2018 is $5,000.
Several town residents asked the board to find a way to continue the organic treatments, citing safety concerns for children playing in Boyle Park. Emily Palmer, mother of a 2-year-old, said the park is “beautiful” as it is, and she’s worried nonorganic herbicides will be harmful to children. Marianne Hurley, who was part of the group that volunteered to pull weeds last year, questioned whether all the plants being sprayed are actually harmful.
“Each time I went, two out of the three plants ... that we were being asked to remove were medicinal herbs,” she said. “They’re not noxious, they’re actually beneficial plants.”
In her letter to the parks department, county Weed Department Manager Bonnie Loving said four species on the state’s noxious weed list have been found in Mancos parks, and she is concerned they could spread to other parts of the county if they go on unchecked.
“When there are parks full of state listed noxious weeds, it is not setting a good example to the public,” she wrote.
One resident, Lyn Patrick, asked the town to improve the soil in Boyle Park so that fewer noxious weeds can survive there. Trustee Ed Hallam, who worked in the parks department for several years, said he agreed with the idea, but that it would take time. He recommended the town use “a minimal amount” of traditional herbicide, in order to get the weeds under control according to state standards.
“If we do it, we will have a better scenario than if the state comes in and controls it,” he said.
The other trustees agreed, and several suggested the town could try organic methods again after the soil improves. Jennings said he would need to spray the park once in spring and once in fall, and Town Administrator Heather Alvarez promised to advertise upcoming sprays on the town website and on social media.
The board didn’t vote on the issue, since it wouldn’t affect the town budget, but the trustees all informally stated their approval of Jennings’ plan.
During the meeting, the board also:
Heard a presentation from Mancos River Water Commissioner Rusty Crangle about the town’s water rights. Voted to award a total of $4,500 in nonprofit donations to the 100 Club of Montezuma County, the Mancos Community Fireworks Fund, the Mancos Farmers Market and the School Community Youth Collaborative.Voted to authorize officials to sign on the town’s bank accounts.Awarded a bid for street paving to Oldcastle SW Group Inc. for $75,200.Heard the first quarter 2018 financial update from Alvarez.